Greater Palm Springs Community

You’ll Be Seeing Stars at the Palm Springs International Film Fest

By Brad Schmett|January 8, 2020

Photo courtesy of Palm Springs International Film Festival

Film buffs, unite!

There’s a place in Palm Springs where you can indulge in your love for film with like-minded movie geeks, while also enjoying other perks like film festival parties and a glamorous awards gala.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival is an 11-day film festival that features over 200 films from 60+ countries.

The festival runs from January 2-13, and is jam-packed with international features and documentaries, as well as exclusive events.

You’ll get the chance to chat with acclaimed and up-and-coming directors about your favorite films, or catch dinner and a movie with catering from some of Palm Springs’ most renowned restaurants.

Between a schedule packed with must-see films and exploring the beautiful area surrounding Palm Springs, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is one event you won’t want to miss this year.

A History of the Palm Springs Film Festival

The Palm Springs International Film festival was founded by singer-songwriter, actor, former mayor of Palm Springs, and congressional representative for California’s 44th District Sonny Bono. Now that’s a lot of hats.

As mayor, Bono knew an international film festival had the ability to put Palm Springs on the map as a year-round tourist destination. In 1989, Bono started planning for the fest while bringing on well-known sponsors such as Metropolitan Theatres, Wells Fargo, and American Airlines.

The festival debuted in 1990 and immediately attracted over 17,000 film fanatics.

By its 5th year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival had grown to 42,000 attendees, and today it’s one of the largest in North America with over 135,000 attendees each year.

This Year’s Festival

This year will mark the 31st year of the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Screenings and events will take place in 6 unique venues, including Mary Pickford is D’Place, Camelot Theatres and Annenberg Theater.

In addition to 200+ films, you’ll have your chance to pop into other film-related events like free community screenings, director panels, parties, and more.

Free Community Film Screenings

Every year the Palm Springs International Film Festival offers exclusive screenings of films by new directors.

This year’s screening The Champion was directed by first-time director Leonardo D’Agostini, and led by seasoned Italian actor Stefano Accorsi.

The Champion follows the life of a timid history teacher assigned to tutor a wild and reckless athlete. The film will be airing January 11th and 12th, and while it’s free it’s still a ticketed event, so grab yours now!

Talking Pictures

Engage in conversations with some of the top directors of the festival. Learn the ins and outs of what it took to bring their ideas to life on the big screen via discussions moderated by skilled entertainment journalists.

The films that will be discussed at this year’s festival include:

  • Marriage Story: A touching look at a family’s resilience through a divorce.
  • Booksmart: A memorable comedy about the bonds formed and challenges faced during adolescence through the eyes of 2 best friends.
  • Bombshell: The story of the infamous women who brought down the creator of Fox News.
  • Harriet: Based on Harriet Tubman’s life, this film tells the story of her escape from slavery.
  • Pain and Glory: A film director feeling less than inspired decides to take the reins and finds inspiration wherever he can.
  • Motherless Brooklyn: A modern adaptation of the 1950’s novel centering around a private eye in New York who lives with Tourette’s syndrome.
  • JoJo Rabbit: A WWII satire in which a young boy and his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, discover his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in the attic.
  • Hustlers: Former strippers decide to plot revenge on their Wall Street clients. Based on a true story.

Dinner and a Movie

What’s better than kicking back, relaxing and finding a new favorite film? Doing all of that AND enjoying a delectable dinner while you’re at it.

At the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s “Dinner and a Movie”, 3 films will be featured and accompanied by thematic dinners.

  1. La Dolce Vita: Enjoy a traditional Italian dinner curated by the chef for Piazza Trilussa Ristorante after being transported to Italy via the Italian film La Dolce Vita.
  2. Stage: The Culinary Internship: Get a look at the fast-paced life of a culinary intern followed by a 3-course meal by well-known culinary artists from featured restaurant EIGHT4NINE.
  3. Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy: Consider yourself a foodie? Don’t miss out on an authentic family-style Mexican dinner at Las Casuelas following the screening of Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy.

Film Awards Gala

Pull out that fancy gala outfit you’ve been dying to wear, because you’re about to witness some internationally-known film directors, artists, and other celebrities be honored at a red-carpet event.

The Film Awards Gala celebrates Hollywood’s Academic Awards Contender. In addition to honoring some of Hollywood’s top film influencers, it provides the opportunity to network and develop new connections over delicious food and cocktails.

Festival Parties

Get your circulation flowing after a long day of film bingeing at one of the exclusive Palm Springs International Film Festival festival parties.

Movies and Melodies

  • Enjoy a top-notch cocktail while experiencing the captivating entertainment of dueling pianos. There might even be a soundtrack singalong or two!


  • Colorful lights, colorful people and the opportunity to dance your booty off await at the Gay!la.

Desert Party at the Ace

Boogie down with some new friends at the annual Desert Party — packed with music, snacks, dancing and games, there’s bound to be entertainment for all the adults in your group.

È qui la festa!

  • An Italian themed party with delicious food, fine wine and plenty of dancing.

Panel Conversations

Get your juices flowing with panel discussions featuring top industry professionals.

Shortlisted: Best International Feature Film Panel
The Palm Springs International Film Festival presents its 5th year panel featuring the top directors of the festival.

A Conversation with Weta Digital
Get an insider’s perspective on world-famous Weta Digital, known for their creation of some of the most well-known characters of our time, including ones form the movies Alita: Battle Angel, Gemini Man and Avengers: Endgame.

Booking a trip to the Palm Springs International Film Festival will leave you at a low risk of trip regret. Not only will you be inspired by the creativity of films from around the world, but by the people behind the camera and by fellow fans alike.

Fair warning, experiencing the fun and beauty of Palm Springs and the countless cultural events that happen year-round, you might just want to move here. Especially when you read these 5 amazing reasons Palm Springs is the perfect summer escape »

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