"Selma" to Open Palm Springs International Film Festival 


Paramount's "Selma" from director Ava Duvernay is picking up steam this awards season. The Martin Luther King drama has been announced to be the opening night movie of the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. The festival will close on Sunday, January 11 with the US premiere of "Boychoir" from director Francois Girard. David Oyelowo, who plays the beloved King in "Selma," is also being honored at the fest with Breakthrough Performance Award, Actor.

Here's the complete press release which includes the list of Easter European movies in a program titled Eastern Promises:

Palm Springs, CA (December 16, 2014) – The 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will launch on Friday, January 2 with the opening night screening of the GoldenGlobe nominated Selma directed by Ava Duvernay. The Festival will wrap on Sunday, January 11 with the US premiere of Boychoir directed by François Girard. New this year, the festival will focus on 20 films from Eastern Europe in a program titled Eastern Promises. The festival runs January 2-12, 2015.

"We are thrilled to launch this year's festival with Selma, Ava DuVernay's deeply moving civil rights drama, featuring an Oscar-worthy performance by David Oyelowo in the role of Dr. Martin Luther King” said Helen du Toit, Artistic Director. “The timing could hardly be better with the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the historical voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery. On a personal note, it is heartening that for the second consecutive year our Opening Night film is directed by a black woman. That, surely, is a sign of progress and a reason for hope.”

“The opportunity to close this year’s Festival with a rapturous new work by acclaimed master of music on film François Girard (32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, The Red Violin) provides the perfect capper to a 10-day symphony of superb cinematic treats,” said Darryl Macdonald, Festival Director. “Bookending this year’s exceptionally diverse lineup with these two remarkable American films makes for strong and quintessentially satisfying viewing from start to finish.”

The Festival will open with Paramount Pictures Selma, followed by a reception at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Directed by Ava DuVernay, the film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. The film stars David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, with Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey, who also serves as a producer. Oyelowo (who will receive the Festival’s Breakthrough Performance Award, Actor) and director DuVernay are expected to attend the film screening. The film has also received four Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture, Drama, Best Actor, Drama and Best Director. The film will open nationwide on January 16 over Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend and timed to the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the historical voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery.

The Festival will close with Boychoir, directed by François Girard. The film is about a troubled 12-year-old from a disadvantaged background who gets accepted at an elite music school, TheNational Boychoir Academy. He engages in a battle of wills with a tough taskmaster, the school's Choirmaster, Carvelle. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Garrett Wareing, Kathy Bates, Eddie Izzard, Kevin McHale, Josh Lucas and Debra Winger.

The festival will spotlight Central and Eastern European filmmaking in a special focus titled Eastern Promises. This year, the region boasts some of the strongest-ever candidates for the upcoming Best Foreign Language Film Oscar®, a mature generation of auteurs who are assuming the mantle of masters, and a new generation who created some of the most stirring, controversial and acclaimed films of 2014. The 20 films selected in the program include:

Afterlife (Hungary) - Tender, funny and surprising, Afterlife is a sweetly absurdist coming-of-age tale that explores the relationship between an anxious twenty-something and his controlling father, a village Pastor — not only while the older man is alive, but also after his death. Director: Virág Zomborácz

Corn Island (Georgia) - A fable-like drama capturing the cycle of life along the border between Georgia and Abkhazia. An old farmer sows corn on one of the tiny islands that form in the Inguri River each spring, but cultivating no-man’s land is dangerous business. Director: George Ovashvili

Cowboys (Croatia) - A nifty blend of social drama and absurdist comedy, about a bunch of small town no-hopers who stage an American Western as a musical. Director: Tomislav Mršic

Fair Play (Czech Republic/Slovakia/Germany) - In Czechoslovakia circa 1983, a talented young sprinter risks her career by resisting the “special care” program designed to boost her competition times in this involving drama. Director: Andrea Sedlácková

Ida (Poland) - A moving and intimate drama set in 1960s Poland, about a young novitiate on the verge of taking her vows who discovers a dark family secret dating from the Nazi occupation. The film received Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress at the Polish Film Awards. Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

In the Crosswind (Estonia) - An art film in every sense of the word, this black-and-white slice of history mixes live-action with tableaux vivants to provide a requiem for inhabitants of the Baltics deported to Siberia or killed on Stalin’s orders. Director: Martti Helde

The Guide (Ukraine) - A boy on the run is rescued by a blind folk minstrel in this tale of love, loyalty, betrayal and infamy, set during the suppression of rural "kulaks" — wealthy farmers — and the Soviet-engineered Ukraine famine that left as many as 10 million peasants dead from starvation. Director: Oles Sanin

The Japanese Dog (Romania) - This moving tale centers on a bereaved 80-year-old reconnecting with his estranged son, who returns to Romania with a Japanese wife and child. Director: Tudor Christian Jurgiu

Kebab & Horoscope (Poland) - A former kebab-shop employee and an out-of-work horoscope writer declare themselves marketing experts and are hired to help a struggling carpet emporium in this droll shaggy-dog story. Director: Grzegorz Jaroszuk

The Lesson (Bulgaria/Greece) - An honest, hard-working schoolteacher in a small Bulgarian town is driven to desperate measures to avoid financial ruin and must grapple with the moral consequences of her actions. Directors: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov

Mirage (Hungary/Slovakia) - An African footballer on the lam (Isaach de Bankolé) in the desolate and lawless plains of Hungary becomes an avenging angel in Szabolcs Hajdu’s Eastern European western. A beautiful, mysterious work, it’s graced with fantastic camerawork and a superb soundtrack. Director: Szabolcs Hajdu

No One’s Child (Serbia/Croatia) - In the spring of 1988, hunters capture a wild boy among the wolves deep in the Bosnian mountains and send him to a Belgrade orphanage. But his “education” is interrupted by war. Director: Vuk Ršumovic

The Reaper (Croatia/Slovenia) - With a superb, seasoned cast and stellar camerawork, three intertwined stories unfold over a single night in an isolated Croatian village. This tense, nuanced drama makes for grim but compelling viewing. Director: Zvonimir Juric

Rocks in My Pockets (Latvia) - A modern milestone in animated storytelling, stuffed with irony, humor and tales within tales, this imaginative memoir merges director Signe Baumane’s own story with a mini-history of 20th century Latvia. Director: Signe Baumane

See you in Montevideo (Serbia) - This exciting sequel to Montevideo, Taste of a Dream (PSIFF, 2013) continues the tale of how the Yugoslav football team took part in the first official World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930 and made sports history. Director: Dragan Bjelogrlic

Tangerines (Estonia) - 1992. An Estonian village in Abkhazia. The approaching war scares off all but two villagers who remain to harvest the tangerines. This deeply pacifist chamber drama is as tense as a thriller. Director: Zaza Urushadze

These Are the Rules (Croatia/France/Serbia) - Based on a true story, this is a painstaking and painful account of the official indifference and injustice that confronts the law-abiding parents of a teenage boy badly beaten up by a high school bully. Director: Ognjen Svilicic

Three Windows and a Hanging (Kosovo) - When a woman from a traditional Kosovar village anonymously reveals to an international journalist that she and others were raped during the war with Serbia, the fallout from this once-repressed secret threatens to tear apart the fabric of village life. Director: Isa Qosja

The Tribe (Ukraine) - One of the most original, audacious and talked about films of 2014, The Tribe takes place in a boarding school for the deaf where the students participate in an underground criminal network. Performed entirely in sign language without subtitles. DirectorL Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy

White God (Hungary) - A new city law taxing mixed breed mutts leads many owners to dump their dogs on the streets – including 13-year-old Lili’s beloved pet Hagen. While she tries to find him, Hagen fights for survival. But every dog has his day. Director: Kornél Mundruczó


“Cinephiles who came of age in the days of the Czech and Polish New Waves have cause to rejoice,” said Alissa Simon, PSIFF Senior Programmer. “In 2014, filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe produced some of the poignant and provocative works of world cinema and we are spotlighting them here, from discoveries by new talent to mustn't miss works by familiar names.”

About The Palm Springs International Film Festival

The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 135,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Black Tie Awards Gala, honoring the best achievements of the filmic year by a celebrated list of talents who, in recent years, have included Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, David O. Russell, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet.

The Awards Gala of the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival is presented by Cartier and sponsored by Mercedes Benz and Entertainment Tonight. The City of Palm Springs is the Title Sponsor of the Film Festival. Presenting Sponsors are Wells Fargo, The Desert Sun and Spencer’s. Major sponsors are Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Wessman Development, Bank of America, Wintec, Regal Entertainment Group, Ignition Creative, Desert Regional Medical Center, Windermere Real Estate, Eisenhower Medical Center, Guthy-Renker, Integrated Wealth Management, VisitGreaterPalmSprings.com, Ocean Properties, Chihuly and Telefilm Canada.


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