The Palm Springs International Film Festival is a world class venue screening world class film. This festival has brought together top talent from all over the world, including Oscar winning directors, writers, actors and producers along with many other talented industry folks! This is a well-organized well-run festival with optional activities like guided hiking tours in the stunning nearby canyons with breathtaking views of the beautiful snow capped mountains. The hospitality suite offers a daily beer and wine happy hour with snacks. The PSIFF is also responsible for several outreach programs in the Coachella Valley. There are several great screening venues, Annenberg Theater at Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs Cultural Center at Camelot Theatres, Mary Pickford is D’Place, Palm Canyon Theatre, Regal Cinemas Palm Springs Stadium 9 and Richards Center for the Arts at Palm Springs High School. There is something in the festival for all tastes, from documentaries to comedy. The Palm Springs International Film Festival managed to capture the glam of the big city festivals while maintaining its small-town charm. Kudos to Lilliana Rodriguez artistic director, great festival!
An Almost Ordinary Summer
Director: Simone Godano
This romantic comedy brings to screen two families; one completely dysfunctional family of class and one seemingly functional working class together at a beautiful seaside resort and are blindsided by a wedding announcement between the two patriarchs, total chaos ensues. This beautiful seaside village is underscored by outstanding cinematography. The hijinks of Tony’s overindulged; envious daughter and homophobic son of Carlos was a magnificent pairing, creating a story within the story. While they were successful in halting the nuptials, it was only temporary. The characters were well developed and strong there was a palpable synergy on screen. The film succeeds in developing each character’s backstory. Deception, comedy and romance were offered at a steady pace. This movie is sure to make some noise on the circuit.
Director: Jan Komasa
Based on a true story, Daniel is played by Bartosz Bielenia, in this gripping journey. As a young adult serving time in a prison for a serious crime, his ambivalence surfaces between hoodlum and staunch catholic assisting the priest in mass. Bartosz totally immerses himself in the role as he takes us on a rollercoaster ride. The cast as well as the cinematography was outstanding, only two scenes were shot with a handheld the rest with Steadicam per cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski Jr. Sobocinsci not only captures the character but masterfully captures the soul in a particular scene where you can see Daniel’s eyes peering just above the crucifix that he has placed on a table. This complex story is well delivered. Corpus Christi has already received several well-deserved awards including, Young Cineastes Award for the film and Fipresci Award for Best Actor Bartosz Bielenia. It also has been nominated in Best International Feature category for the 2020 Oscars.
Director: Chinonye Chuckwu
This thought-provoking drama, already an award winner at Sundance presents us with both sides of the death penalty without instructing us what to think. Superbly acted by Alfre Woodard, stalwart prison warden Bernadine Williams begins to question herself and the system after a botched execution. Emotions and professional duties are no longer in sync, the character drinks herself into near mental collapse as her home-life falls apart and her husband moves out. Bernadine’s determination to continue her job is increasingly difficult as the next prisoner in line for execution rejects all socialization, with time running out he holds steadfast that he is innocent. In the end the warden must make a tough decision! This may be a very tough film for some to watch, but well worth toughing it out.