The Palm Springs International Film Festival announces additional premieres, Talking Pictures and Archival Treasures. In total, the fest has 188 films (63 premieres) playing between January 5-16, representing 73 countries. Newly announced premieres include The Weinstein Co.’s “Dragon (Wu Xia)” and “War of the Buttons,” and well as Mark Cousins’ “The Story of Film: An Odyssey.” Artistic director Helen du Toit says “Cousins’ love letter to cinema, this epic tale of the evolution of creativity in international cinema, is accompanied by a selection of 5 archival films that Cousins deems to be ‘game-changers.’ This is essentially a mini-film festival in itself.” Included in the archival choices are Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist” and Youssef Chahine’s “Cairo Station.”
The Talking Pictures program now includes “George Clooney: Talking Pictures, Politics and Passion” (accompanied by “The Ides of March”) and “Gary Oldman: Thinker, Actor, Chameleon, Star” (with screening of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”).
Full details below and more on the complete lineup here.
Talking Pictures focuses on the films and the talents that are emerging among the front-runners leading up to the Academy Award nominations. Each program will feature a screening of the film under consideration and will be followed by an in-depth interview with the talent whose work is being showcased.
• George Clooney: Talking Pictures, Politics and Passion – George Clooney will participate in this Talking Picture program with John Horn from the Los Angeles Times following a screening of the film The Ides of March on Saturday, January 7. Clooney directed, produced, co-wrote and stars in the acclaimed political thriller, currently in theatres nationwide. The film from Columbia Pictures and Cross Creek Pictures is set during the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, when an up-and-coming campaign press secretary (Ryan Gosling) finds himself involved in a political scandal that threatens to upend his candidate’s (Clooney) shot at the presidency. The Ides of March is directed by George Clooney. Screenplay by George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, based on the play “Farragut North” by Beau Willimon. The film is produced by Heslov and Clooney and Brian Oliver. Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood also star in the film. Clooney will receive the Chairman’s Award for The Ides of March and The Descendents at the Festival’s Awards Gala.
• Gary Oldman: Thinker, Actor, Chameleon, Star (UK) – Gary Oldman will participate this Talking Pictures program with Tim Gray from Variety following a screening of the film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on Sunday, January 8. Oldman stars in Focus Features’ much-lauded spy thriller, directed by Tomas Alfredson and based on the novel by John le Carré. The film also stars Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Dencik, Colin Firth, Stephen Graham, Tom Hardy, Ciarán Hinds, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Simon McBurney, and Mark Strong. Oldman was recently cited as Best Actor of the Year by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, which also named the script by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan the Best Adapted Screenplay of the Year. Oldman will receive the International Star Award at the Festival’s Awards Gala.
• The Story of Film: An Odyssey (UK) – Making its US premiere, the history of cinema gets a long overdue reorientation in this epic documentary film by the avid and engaging Mark Cousins. Filmmaker and historian Cousins, adapts his book of the same title into a 15-hour exploration of cinema’s artistry with a global perspective from the silent era to the digitalage. Interviewees (more than 40 of them) range from Hollywood legend Stanley Donen to French director Claire Denis, Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami, India’s Mani Kaul, and Russia’s Alexander Sokurov. Director: Mark Cousins.
• War of the Buttons (France) – Making its North American premiere, this film from The Weinstein Company and director of the 2005 PSIFF hit The Chorus, is an adaptation of the classic 1912 novel by Louis Pergaud, revolving around opposing gangs of kids from two different country villages who engage in ongoing mock battles with each other. Gorgeously mounted and superbly directed, this engrossing adventure sets the story in 1944, drawing resonant parallels between the ongoing mock battles played out between children and the larger battles raging at the time of the film’s backdrop, WWII. Director: Christophe Barratier. Cast: Laetitia Casta, Guillaume Canet, Kad Merad, Gerard Jugnot, Francois Morel, Marie Bunel, Jean Texier, Clement Godefroy, Theophile Baquet, Louis Dussol, Harold Werner, Nathan Parent, Ilona Bachelier, Thomas Goldberg.
• Dragon (Wu Xia) (Hong Kong) – The film is a North American premiere from The Weinstein Company. In the late Qing Dynasty, Liu (Donnie Yen) is a papermaker, leading a simple life with his wife Ayu (Tang Wei) and their two sons. Into their remote village comes Detective Xu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), who is investigating the deaths of two bandits during a robbery. Xu quickly realizes that the incident in question was no ordinary botched robbery – and his dogged inquiry threatens to dredge up the dark secrets of Liu’s buried past, threatening not only Liu and his family, but the entire village. Director: Peter Chan. Cast: Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tang Wei, Jimmy Wang Yu, Kara Wai Ying-hung, Li Xiaoran.
The Festival will screen the following international cinematic classics curated by Mark Cousins:
• Brightness (Mali/Burkina Faso, France, 1987) – In the dream-time in West Africa, a young man sets out to kill his evil sorcerer father. As his epic journey through amazing landscapes unfolds, a hyena talks to him, a dog walks backwards, and he discovers his own magical powers. Brightness is as grand as Lawrence of Arabia, as complex as the great art films of the 60s. It shows that African cinema is neither technically primitive nor simply social. It’s challenging, and one of the masterpieces of the movies. Director: Souleymane Cissé. Cast: Issiaka Kane, Aoua Sangare.
• Cairo Station (Egypt, 1958) – Kinaoui, a disabled newspaper seller in Cairo’s main train station, is in love with a voluptuous soft drinks vendor. She’s kind to him but not in the way he craves. His feelings grow until they almost explode. The brilliant Arab director Youssef Chahine mixes together comment and his love of Gene Kelly musicals to make the greatest movie about sexual repression in the 1950s. Director: Youssef Chahine. Cast: Farid Shawqi, Hind Rostom, Youssef Chahine.
• The Conformist (Italy/France, Germany, 1970) – Italy under Mussolini: Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is trying to fit in with society and its sexual norms. The fascist government makes him go to Paris to assassinate a dissident. As his trip unfolds we discover the events in his youth which have caused him to be such a quivering human being. Released when its master director, Bernardo Bertolucci, was just 30, The Conformist is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, and paved the way for films like Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Director: Bernardo Bertolucci. Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin.
• The Goddess (India, 1960) – The future father-in-law of a teenage girl dreams that she is Devi, a goddess. Suddenly, she’s the centr of a cult. Sick people flock to be cured by her. Her innocent childhood is weighed down by Hindu fundamentalism. A brilliant performance by Sharmila Tagore (the Elizabeth Taylor of Indian cinema) and lustrous cinematography make this one of the most potent films by legendary Bengali director Satyajit Ray. Director: Satyajit Ray.
• The Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Japan, 1947) – Amidst Japan’s post-war rubble, a little boy is homeless. A grumpy lady reluctantly looks after him but there’s no way she’s taking him on for good. Especially after he wets the bed…. One of the world’s great directors, Yasujiro Ozu, makes his most charming film, a masterpiece about filiation and friendship. Director: Yasujirô Ozu.