News in 2009

PSIFF Australian Film Day
2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival


Palm Springs, CA (December 21, 2009) – The 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival announced today a new program highlighting Australian Cinema, in addition to the films selected to compete for the FIPRESCI Award, New Voices/New Visions Award and John Schlesinger Awards. A final total of 188 films from 70 countries, including 41 of the 65 official submissions to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Foreign Language Film, will screen from January 7-18. For a complete list of films screening in this year's Festival, see attached.

Director of Programming Helen du Toit said, "This year there has been a flood of great new directing talent. Our New Voices/New Visions competition presents the best debut features of international filmmakers, all seeking US distribution, to a jury of American acquisitions executives from Apparition, IFC and Zeitgeist. The twelve contenders indicate a dynamic wave of emerging talent."

Festival Director Darryl Macdonald said, "The Australian production boom was brought on by tax incentives, but it is the new talent behind the work that will sustain it. In addition to sterling work from emerging filmmakers, our Australian films showcase spotlights the work of three exciting new directors: Glendyn Ivin's U.S. Premier Last Ride features a dazzling performance by Hugo Weaving; actress Rachel Ward makes an impressive directorial debut with Beautiful Kate; and Warwick Thornton's Camera D'Or winner Samson and Delilah represents Australia in the Oscar race.”


On January 9, the Festival will host Australian Film Day, entitled "G'Day USA: A Showcase of New Australian Cinema." This program will premiere new films from Australia organized in partnership with G'Day USA, the Australian Consulate General in Los Angeles and Tourism Australia. This will serve as the kick-off event to the G'Day USA Australia Week, which offers festivities and business events in L.A., San Diego, San Francisco and New York as part of a cross-country promotion of all things Australia. With Down-Under talent Bryan Brown, Robert Connolly, Anthony LaPaglia, Ana Kokkinos, Ted Kotcheff, Frances O'Connor, Warwick Thornton, Rachel Ward and Sara Watt expected to attend, Australia Film Day will kick off with the Gala screening of My Year Without Sex. The films selected in the G'Day USA program include:

The Balibo Conspiracy - In 1975, five young Australian TV journalists covering the invasion of East Timor by the Indonesian army were murdered at the border village of Balibo. Their story, denied and covered up for over 30 years, is grippingly recreated in this tense and moving film from Robert Connolly. Director: Robert Connolly. Cast: Anthony LaPaglia, Oscar Isaac and Damon Gameau. U.S. premiere.

Beautiful Kate - Actress Rachel Ward makes a stunningly assured feature writing and directing debut with this emotional drama about a self-hating writer Ned (Ben Mendelsohn) who returns to his childhood home in the Australian outback in search of answers about his family's dysfunctional past. Director: Rachel Ward. Cast: Bryan Brown, Rachel Griffiths and Ben Mendelsohn.

Blessed - Focusing on the often-fraught bond between mothers and their children, Blessed unfolds in a blue-collar suburb of Melbourne over the course of 24 hours. The intersecting stories are divided into two parts, the first told from the viewpoint of the troubled offspring and the second through the weary eyes of their struggling moms. Director: Ana Kokkinos. Cast: Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto and Deborra-Lee Furness. U.S. premiere.

In My Father's Country - In one of the most remote corners of indigenous Australia, a boy will soon become a man. Following preparations for the ritual, the film shows the life lessons he receives from his father and grandfather. Set against the political backdrop of government pressure to close "uneconomic outstations," it also shows modernity almost imperceptibly penetrating their community. Director: Tom Murray. North America premiere.

Last Ride - When his ex-con father (Hugo Weaving) bundles him into the car in the middle of the night, 10-year-old Chook knows that something is wrong. As the two drive into the desert towards an unknown future, their troubled relationship and the need to survive sees them battling the elements and each other. Director: Glendyn Ivin. Cast: Hugo Weaving, Tom Russell and Anita Hegh. U.S. Premiere.

Lucky Country - A gripping thriller set in 1902, in the wild Australian outback, where a desperate family on the brink of ruin find themselves turning on each other after three strangers arrive at their farm with rumors of gold. Director: Kriv Stender. Cast Aden Young, Toby Wallace and Pip Miller. U.S. premiere.

My Year Without Sex - A middle-class Melbourne mom recovering from a near-fatal illness wrestles with the titular problem and a whole lot more in this endearing comic drama from the writer/director of the prize-winning Look Both Ways (PSIFF 2006). Director: Sarah Watt. Cast: Sacha Horler, Matt Day and Portia Bradley. U.S. Premiere.

Samson & Delilah - One of the year's most cinematically satisfying films, this unconventional love story of two aboriginal teens from a dusty settlement in the Central Australian Desert is full of fascinating ethnographic detail, gentle humor and breathtaking cinematography. Winner of the Camera D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and many other prizes. Director: Warwick Thornton. Cast: Rowan McNamara, Marissa Gibson and Scott Thornton.

Wake in Fright - A true milestone in Australian film history, this dread-filled drama is set in a rough outback mining town where a marooned teacher finds himself at odds with the xenophobic locals. Tensions quickly escalate until the inevitable explosion comes to pass. Director: Ted Kotcheff. Cast: Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond and Chips Rafferty.


As part of the Awards Buzz program, the Festival will screen 41 of the 65 official submissions to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Foreign Language Film. A special jury of international film critics will review these films to award the FIPRESCI Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, Best Actor and Best Actress. The 2010 FIPRESCI jury members are B. Ruby Rich, Jan Stuart and Katherine Tulich.


The New Voices/New Visions Award will honor one of 12 features from new international talents making their first or second films. The films will be judged by a jury which includes Sara Rose from Apparition; Nancy Gerstman from Zeitgeist Films and Arianna Bocco from IFC Films. Films selected for this year include:

Angel at Sea (Belgium/Canada) - Twelve-year-old Louis lives a charmed life in a small Moroccan town. But one night his father shares a secret with him that changes their relationship—and Louis' life—forever. This visually arresting and emotionally gripping film won the top prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Directed by Frédéric Dumont. U.S. premiere.

Beautiful Kate - Actress Rachel Ward makes a stunningly assured feature writing and directing debut with this emotional drama about a self-hating writer Ned (Ben Mendelsohn) who returns to his childhood home in the Australian outback in search of answers about his family's dysfunctional past. Director: Rachel Ward. Cast: Bryan Brown, Rachel Griffiths and Ben Mendelsohn.

A Brand New Life (South Korea/France) - It's 1975. Jinhee is nine years old, and the life she knows is about to be shattered. Inexplicably abandoned by her father in a Catholic orphanage outside Seoul, Jinhee begins an extraordinary emotional journey marked by rage and hope, death and rebirth. Directed by Ounie Lecomte. U.S. premiere

Brotherhood (Denmark) - Former Danish servicemen Lars and Jimmy are thrown together while training in a neo-Nazi group. Moving from hostility through grudging admiration to friendship and finally passion, events take a darker turn when their illicit relationship is uncovered. Winner, Best Film, Rome Film Festival. Directed by Nicolo Donato. U.S. premiere.

Devil's Town (Serbia) - A stylish black comedy about life in contemporary Belgrade that satirizes the moral malaise clouding Serbia, Devil's Town features a host of top actors as city dwellers whose lives intersect on a hot summer day while the country's tennis stars compete in an important tournament. Directed by Vladimir Paskaljevic. U.S. premiere.

Heliopolis (Egypt) - An honest and important expression of a generation's fight for their dreams in the face of harsh realities, Ahmad Abdalla's ensemble drama focuses a sharp critique of Egyptian society matched by a nostalgia-drenched longing for life before the 1952 Revolution. Directed by Ahmad Abdalla. U.S. premiere.

Huacho (Chile/France) - A poignant but unsentimental look at the harsh life of the rural population in southern Chile. Following a small peasant family through its day, we are privy to the hardships they bear but also to their indomitable resilience and resourcefulness. Directed by Alejandro Fernández Almendras. U.S. premiere.

La Pivellina (Austria/Italy) - In an impoverished trailer park on the outskirts of Rome, a small band of social outcasts eke out an existence in the dreary Italian winter. Circus performers Patty and Walter wait patiently for the summer to come, until one day Patty finds a small two-year-old girl standing alone in the rain in a suburban park. Directed by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel.

The Man Beyond the Bridge (India) - A lonely forest guard comes across a filthy, mentally challenged woman outside his house. After his initial disgust, he slowly gets used to her visits and starts to care for her. But when she becomes pregnant, the villagers question his right to help. Directed by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar. U.S. premiere.

Northless (Mexico/Spain) - Through the intimate story of a young Oaxacan man struggling to jump the border into the U.S. and ending up in the care of two lonely women in Tijuana, Northless takes a fresh look at the realities of immigration facing individuals and families. Is crossing worth the price of what gets left behind? Directed by Rigoberto Pérezcano.

Nothing Personal (Netherlands/Ireland) - A lone woman on the road in Ireland meets an equally reticent man who offers her food for work on the grounds of his grand house. Urszula Antoniak's wonderfully understated and surprising debut features standout performances from Lotte Verbeek (Best Actress at Locarno) and Stephen Rea. Directed by Urszula Antoniak. U.S. premiere.

What You Don't See (Germany/Austria) - Reminiscent of Francois Ozon's See the Sea, this impressive psychological thriller about a sensitive German adolescent grappling with his father's suicide and his mother's new boyfriend plays out against the eerie woods and fantastic rock formations of the Brittany Coast. Directed by Wolfgang Fischer. U.S. premiere.


The John Schlesinger Award for Outstanding First Feature or Documentary acknowledges the work of a first-time filmmaker whose film is presented in any program at the Festival. Sixty-six films are eligible for this award, which include:

Ajami (Israel/Germany), Angel at Sea (Belgium/Canada), Artois the Goat (USA), Bad Day to Go Fishing (Uruguay/Spain), Beautiful Kate (Australia), A Brand New Life (South Korea/France), Breathless (South Korea), Brotherhood (Denmark), Chamaco (Mexico/USA/Canada), City of Borders (USA), Daniel & Ana (Mexico), Dark Resonance (Bangladesh), Devil's Town (Serbia), Different from Whom? (Italy), Draft Dodgers (Luxembourg/Switzerland), Dumbstruck (USA/Japan/Bahamas), Dzi Croquettes (Brazil), Eamon (Ireland), Expecting Mary (USA), Eyes Wide Open (Israel), Garbage Dreams (USA), The Girl (Sweden), The Happiness of Kati (Thailand), Harry Brown (UK), Heliopolis (Egypt), Huacho (Chile/France), I Killed my Mother (Canada), I Love You Phillip Morris (USA), Is it Just Me? (USA), Junior (USA), Kelin (The Daughter-In-Law) (Kazakhstan), Kimjongilia (France/USA/South Korea), La Pivellina (Austria/Italy), Last Ride (Australia), The Long Night (Syria), Love and Rage (Denmark), The Man Beyond the Bridge (India), Mid-August Lunch (Italy), Miracle Seller (Poland/Sweden), Mount St. Elias (Austria/USA), Mugabe and the White African (Namibia/UK), My Dog Tulip (USA), North (Norway), Northless (Mexico/Spain), Nothing Personal (Netherlands/Ireland), On These Shoulders We Stand (USA), The Other Bank (Georgia/Kazakhstan), Plan B (Argentina), Queen to Play (France), Quick, Quick, Slow (China), A Rational Solution (Sweden), Restless (France), Reverse (Poland), Samson & Delilah (Australia), Shirley Adams (South Africa/USA), Shoot the Hero (USA), Sons of Cuba (UK/Cuba), Sticky Fingers (Canada/France/Spain), Sweet Crude (Nigeria/USA), Thanks Maa (India), Waking Sleeping Beauty (USA), Weekend (Chile), What You Don't See (Germany/Austria), White Wedding (South Africa) and The Wildest Dream (USA/UK).

In addition to Audience Awards presented for Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature, the Bridging the Borders Award presented by will be bestowed upon an international film that extols the universality of the human experience, bridging the borders between nations and promoting international understanding.

About G'Day USA

G'Day USA is an annual celebration of Australian capability and brings together key influencers in government, business and the arts. G'Day is now one of the most effective, far reaching, and comprehensive national promotions held anywhere in the world. G'Day USA 2010 promises to reach new heights in promoting Australian business, knowledge, expertise, and tourism and in strengthening business, academic and government collaboration. The 11-day program will take in 5 cities and 20 events, providing unparalleled opportunities for sponsors and supporters to secure exposure and deepen the bonds between Australia and the United States.

About the Palm Springs International Film Festival

Celebrating its 21st anniversary, the Palm Springs International Film Festival was founded in 1990 by then-Mayor Sonny Bono. The Festival presents a majority of the films submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Language category for the Academy Awards, as well as a large number of American independent and international features and documentaries marking their world, North American or U.S. debuts. Screenings are held on 15 screens throughout Palm Springs.

The Festival's 21st Annual Awards Gala is presented by Cartier and sponsored by Entertainment Tonight. Renewing sponsors of this year's Festival are Title Sponsor The City of Palm Springs and Presenting Sponsors The Desert Sun, the City of Indian Wells, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Spencer's Restaurant and KPSP Local 2. Major Sponsors include Bank of America, Ketel One, Johnnie Walker and Don Julio, Regal Entertainment Group, Wells Fargo, Verizon, Integrated Wealth Management, Guthy-Renker, Wessman Development, Ocean Properties Development, Chihuly Art Glass and Chop House Edit.