25th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival
During its first quarter century, the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) has grown from a fairly isolated event in the middle of the Southern California desert, to one of the largest film festivals in North America. It has become a must-appear event for each respective year’s Academy Award hopefuls. The 2014, 25th anniversary fest will be held Friday, January 3 through Monday, January 13 and boasts its most star-studded roster yet.
Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey and Julia Roberts, among others, will all be honored at the annual Awards Gala the evening of Saturday, January 4 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Suitably enough, Streep will be presented the festival’s Icon Award for a body of work culminating in her current, scenery-chewing turn in "August: Osage County," in which Roberts plays her estranged daughter.
"For almost 40 years, Meryl Streep has portrayed an astonishing array of characters in a career that has cut its own unique path from the theatre through film and television," according to festival organizers. "In 2011, in a record that is unsurpassed, she earned her 17th Academy Award nomination for her role as Margaret Thatcher in ’The Iron Lady’ (which she won)." Streep just completed production on Disney’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical "Into the Woods," in which she plays the witch role originated by Bernadette Peters.
Bullock and Hanks are being recognized for their star turns in, respectively, 2013’s "Gravity" and "Captain Phillips," while McConaughey’s performance as an AIDS-afflicted activist in "Dallas Buyers Club" is being feted. Also, Steve McQueen will be honored as Director of the Year for his work on the Oscar front-runner "12 Years a Slave" and the cast of writer-director David O. Russell’s "American Hustle" (which includes Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence) will share the Ensemble Performance Award.
PSIFF today attracts over 135,000 attendees with its mix of world and U.S. premieres, celebrated international features and acclaimed documentaries. These include a number of films each year of LGBT interest and/or directed by LGBT filmmakers. The 2014 event will be no exception, with 16 LGBT productions set to be screened. While a few of them ("Test," "Reaching for the Moon," "Two: The Story of Roman and Nyro," and "Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia") have previously appeared at other Southern California festivals, others are making their local premieres.
Among these are: "Gerontophilia," in which longtime provocateur Bruce LaBruce trades in his traditional hardcore style for a more discreet, gentle look at a young man who falls in love with an 81-year old resident of the nursing home in which he works.
"Tattoo," a Brazilian film set in 1978 about the forbidden romance between an 18-year-old soldier in the country’s ruling military regime and an anarchist cabaret ringleader.
"Cupcake," the new movie by popular gay Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox (Yossi & Jagger, Yossi), is a musical-comedy focusing on six friends of different sexual persuasions who write a song as a joke only to see it chosen for a national song competition.