How to Navigate the Palm Springs International Film Festival

How big is your appetite? Tips on how to enhance your experience.



The Lounge at the Palm Springs International Film Festival where attendees can purchase tickets, mingle and relax in between film screenings.

Carolyn Moloshco

Are you ready to be entertained, provoked, amused and enlightened by stunning visual stories from around the world?

The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) opens Thursday night (Jan. 3) with 180 films from 68 countries, starting with a Gala screening of Blancanieves at Palm Springs High School.

“We have a lot of pass holders, regulars who come back every year,” says Helen Du Toit, PSIFF artistic director. “Many who see 25 films, some 40, and there have been regulars who claimed to see 68 films, which seems almost physically impossible. But I’ve done it myself at a festival so I know it’s possible. A little insane, but possible.”

Seven full-time and two associate programmers screen up to 400 films a year searching for the movies that end up at the festival. With such a diverse program, making your film selections can be a little tricky, especially for first timers.

One of the more logical routes for finding your film preferences is to look at films in the Sections: Nordic Light; New Voices/New Visions; Modern Masters; World Cinema Now; True Stories; Awards Buzz.

Du Toit says she always tracks filmmakers whose work she loves, but “the greatest pleasure for a programmer is stumbling upon a film that you know nothing about and discovering a new filmmaker. That’s the most exciting thing… like you’ve been panning for gold and then find it in some creek.”

Two “golden” films for Du Toit in this year’s festival are Dario Nardi’s Sadourni’s Butterflies and Brahim Fritah’s Playground Chronicles.

So for the thrill of discovering unexpected gold, Du Toit suggests taking a chance on something unfamiliar when making your film selections.

After reviewing the festival program, Du Toit recommends answering one question: Do you want to feast, snack or enjoy a buffet of films?

Feasting – Film Festival feasting is partly a matter of pacing yourself, figuring out how many films you can handle a day. The average film is about 100 minutes. You can pack in five films a day if you have the stamina for it. Decide on your priority films, and then fill in other films around those first choices.

Snacking – Do you want to snack on things you know you love? If so, think in terms of your favorite filmmakers, or a genre you like, or comedies if you’re a comedy buff, or films from a particular country you’re interested in, etc., and select on that basis.  

Buffet – Feeling adventurous? Select a grab bag of films from around the world. Read through the film descriptions and find titles that sound intrigue you. Pick whatever piques your interest.

In between films, the PSIFF Lounge at Courtyard of Palm Springs, adjacent to the Regal Cinemas Palm Springs Stadium 9, offers a place to relax and mingle with other film goers. It’s also where you can buy tickets and find festival merchandise for sale.

Festival Ticket & Information Center
777 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Unit 113, Palm Springs
Jan. 3-14 - Open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Jan. 14 - 9 a.m. to Noon
Phone: 800-898-7256 – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Web: www.psfilmfest.org

Festival Lounge & Box Office
Courtyard of Palm Springs
789 E. Tahquitz Canyon, Suite 113

Ticket & Event Pricing
General Admission - $12 per person
Matinee (before 3 p.m.) - $11
International Gala Film Screenings - $13
Talking Pictures Programs - $25
Festival International Parties - $25
Opening Night Gala - $60
Closing Night Gala - $50

Add your comment:
Desert Guide

Related Articles

Palm Springs Weekend: Peter Frampton, Diana Ross, Cinema Diverse

Palm Springs Life helps plan out your weekend in Palm Springs and the desert resort cities with concerts, events, restaurants, nightlife, clubs and the world of entertainment only found in the desert.

Explore Palm Springs: La Plaza Shopping Center

Still a thriving shopping center, La Plaza breathes life into Palm Springs' downtown shopping district just as it has done for more than 70 years.

Lasers Light Up Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

Turn off the lights at Fantasy Springs Bowling Center at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, and one of America’s oldest recreational sports literally illuminates a whole new persona - laser bowling.

The Purple Room Audience May Recognize Shelagh Ratner's Voice First

Once she appears Sept. 20 at The Purple Room Restaurant & Stage in Palm Springs, it’s likely audience members will have an “aha!” moment upon hearing Shelagh Ratner’s voice.

Charles Busch Brings His Own Show to Copa Palm Springs

Charles Busch, who has portrayed female characters for most of his theater career, will personify Old Hollywood in his solo desert show debut.

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.