19th Palm Springs International Film Festival

USA, January 3 - January 14 2008

The jury

Ronald Bergan (UK), Adam Nayman (Canada), Isabelle Danel (France)

Awarded films

* Films awarded at Palm Springs receive the Best Foreign Language Film Award.

What makes The Palm Springs International Festival, now in its 19th year, significantly different from other festivals is that the FIPRESCI jury is expected to judge the best of all the submissions of various countries to the Foreign Language Film Oscars. In a way this makes sense because of Palm Springs proximity to Los Angeles, the self-styled ‘movie capital of the world’.

This year our jury of three had to see 53 movies. Naturally, this was impossible to do during the ten days of the festival so we had to resort to DVDs of more than half the films in the competition, not exactly an ideal situation. Thankfully for future FIPRESCI jurors, from next year, only the ‘best’ foreign film submissions will be screened, probably between 15 and 20, a much more realistic number.

Despite the heavy burden of films, most of which were too bad to have any hope of winning an Oscar or others too good to win an Oscar, the festival did everything possible to make everything run smoothly, laying on cars to get to all the screenings, all of which began on time at the three main theatres.

Although the films in our section were the already heavily lauded 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (FIPRESCI Film of the Year), Persepolis, The Edge of Heaven and The Counterfeiters, we were pleased to discover relatively unknown films of quality such as It’s Hard To Be Nice (Bosnia), I Just Didn’t Do It (Japan) and Armin (Croatia), the eventual winner.

The city and climate are very pleasant, the people extremely hospitable, and the audiences, whose average age must be around 70, are receptive and enthusiastic, enjoying the vast range of excellent films on offer. In fact, the cream of world cinema in 2007. The interesting sidebars included New Israeli Cinema, New Voices, New Visions (first and second features) and Cine Latino. (Ronald Bergan)

About recent changes and departures in Eastern European cinema, read also Shahla Nahid’s Thessaloniki report about “Balkan Creativity”

Palm Springs International Film Festival: www.psfilmfest.org