The desert oasis of Palm Springs has long been a warm retreat for Hollywood’s elite, and traces of the desert’s star-studded presence can still be found throughout the Coachella Valley to this day. One of the best times to experience Palm Springs’ ties to Hollywood and the movie industry is during the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, an 11-day event that brings cinephiles to Palm Springs for nearly two weeks of independent film screenings, Q&A sessions with movie crews and celebrity-laden parties after dark.
The Festival is one of the top things to do in Palm Springs, so you won't want to miss the screenings and galas that make up the desert's first festival of the year.
The Palm Springs Film Fest is for everyone from celebrities to indie film lovers — Photo courtesy of Palm Springs International Film Festival
Pioneered by musician and former Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono, the 25th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will kick off on January 3. Throughout the festival, nearly 200 films will be screened at venues like Palm Springs High School, the Palm Springs Art Museum and Camelot Theatres, to name a few. The festival focuses on all genres of independent films from around the world, including documentaries, dramas, comedies, thrillers and horror. From the thought-provoking to the downright quirky, the films selected for the Palm Springs International Film Festival offer something for everyone to enjoy.
This will be the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival — Photo courtesy of Palm Springs International Film Festival
This year's event will begin with the screening of “Belle,” a period drama from the UK. The screening will be attended by the director and be followed by a gala at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Seventy-seven films will mark their debut at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, as well. Movie premieres include Days and Nights, starring Katie Holmes and William Hurt, and Party Central, which stars John Goodman, Sean Hayes and Charlie Day.
The first Saturday of the festival marks the Black Tie Awards Gala, undoubtedly one of the most anticipated events of the entire festival. The red carpet is rolled out at the Palm Springs Convention Center for a night of awards and fundraising over food and cocktails, all the while rubbing elbows with Hollywood’s finest.
Tom Hanks will be honored at this year's Festival — Photo courtesy of Palm Springs International Film Festival
Celebrities to be honored at the gala include Tom Hanks, who will receive the Chairman’s Award; Meryl Streep, who will receive the Icon Award; and Julia Roberts, who will receive the Spotlight Award. Sandra Bullock, Johan Hill and Matthew McConaughey will also be honored during the festival.
Cinephiles will also enjoy the Talking Pictures series, which takes film enjoyment to the next level with hosted talks with industry producers, talent, screenwriters and directors. Past participants have included George Clooney, Naomi Watts, Michael Douglas and Shirley MacLaine.
For tickets and a full schedule, check out the Palm Springs International Film Festival website.