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Previews and Features

10 Jan 2014
It was Day 5 of the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival, and I wanted to talk to the leader of the festival’s critically important volunteer team. Of course, this was not the best time for Rochelle Koch to take a few moments to chat with a pesky reporter. To put it mildly, she was kind of busy. However, Koch, who is in her third year as the PSIFF volunteer coordinator, seemed happy to take some time to chat about her “wonderful team.” “It’s my volunteer family, is how I refer to it,” said Koch (pronounced “Cook”), who comes across as a focused bundle of energy. “‘Our Volunteers Are The BEST!’ is what I put on my business card and on my emails—and it’s the truth.” Festival director Darryl Macdonald was also happy to take a few moments out of his busiest week of the year to share his perspective.…
31 Dec 2013
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Twenty years ago, I covered my first Palm Springs International Film Festival. The PSIFF was a much more modest event back then, and that year, the star of the festival was Sophia Loren. I remember it well—since she kissed me before a sea of cameras! She did it after I publicly asked her to send a message of peace to my country, the war-torn Yugoslavia. Then and there, I fell in love with Sophia—and the festival, too. In 2002, I was invited to a special event celebrating the 90th birthday of Loren’s husband, famed producer Carlo Ponti, with their son, Carlo Ponti Jr., conducting a symphony; their second son, director Edoardo Ponti, was also in attendance. I believe Spencer’s Restaurant owner Harold Matzner underwrote the event. Matzner’s a Jersey fellow and a longtime PSIFF chairman. Following the event, I went to see him at his office, and we came up…
23 Sep 2013
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This coming fall/holiday movie season is loaded, so here is a mere sampling of the rest of this movie year—and, man, does it look promising. The summer was a bit of a slog, but we’re looking at a major cinematic rally for 2013. Movies are listed in order of their announced release dates (which are always subject to change). There’s a lot cover, so here we go … Gravity (Oct. 4): Sandra Bullock and George Clooney get lost in space for director Alfonso Cuarón. I feel like I’ve seen the whole damned thing already, because the marketing for this film has involved numerous clips in different previews. Stop! I want to be surprised! Early reviews are crazily enthusiastic, so here’s to it kicking some ass. Runner Runner (Oct. 4): Ben Affleck plays big a criminal asshole to Justin Timberlake’s just-sort-of-misguided asshole. The film involves online gambling and crocodiles, with the…
17 Sep 2013
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The Camelot Theatres are the home of one helluva LGBT film festival this weekend. Cinema Diverse, the annual Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, takes place at the Camelot this Thursday through Sunday, and it’s packed with compelling independent films, all of which have a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered theme. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Compelling independent film” is often code for “well-meaning but mediocre.” However, those of us at Independent World Headquarters can personally vouch for these three films, because we’ve watched them, or at least know enough about them to know they’re worthy. (Unfortunately, unless you’ve managed to clone yourself, you’ll only be able to catch two of these three films this weekend—because two of them overlap.) Cinema Diverse, featuring a wide variety of LGBT features and shorts from the morning through night, takes place Thursday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Sept. 22, with all screenings…

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