Hollywood “royalty,” Tamil migrants, a devastating sex affair, musical comedy, communism and a “differently abled” hit man.
Those are among the enticing subjects among 190 films at the 28th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, Jan. 2-16. The Palm Springs Film Fest has attracted films from 72 countries, including world, North American and U.S,. premieres. The opening film Jan. 5 is The Sense of an Ending, directed by Ritesh Batra, screening at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
• See related story: The Sense of an Ending Opens Palm Springs Film Fest.
According to festival organizers, these are the top 10 movies (in no particular order) that expect to draw big houses during the festival.
INTERROGATION (director Vetri Maaran) — Based on Chandra Kumar’s novel “Lock Up,” India’s Academy Award entry is a visceral, tense crime drama about four Tamil migrants in Andhra Pradesh tortured by police into making a false confession and trapped in a Kafkaesque intrigue. Winner: Audience Award, New York South Asian Festival; Amnesty International Award, Venice.
UNA (director Benedict Andrews) — She was 13 and he was 40 when he was imprisoned for their taboo affair. Now, 15 years later, Una confronts the man who destroyed her life. Rooney Mara and Ben Mendolsohn star in this explosive adaptation of David Harrower’s Tony- winning play, Blackbird.
KILLS ON WHEELS (director Attila Till) — This likeable and intrepid serio-comic fantasy is actually a surprisingly sensitive tale of two “differently-abled” 20-somethings from a Budapest rehab center who take up with a wheelchair-bound hit-man. Winner: Roger Ebert Award, Chicago.
Kills on Wheels was the Hungarian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.
EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY (director Catalina Aguilar Mastretta) — Living a picture-perfect life while in the fog of heartbreak, successful Mexican-American obstetrician Clara is on the verge of letting love back into her life just as her ex, Daniel, unexpectedly reappears, forcing a major life reappraisal in this funny and bittersweet bilingual romantic comedy.
BRIGHT LIGHTS: STARRING CARRIE FISHER AND DEBBIE REYNOLDS (director Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens) — This delicious double portrait of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher is a hilariously unguarded, remarkably intimate peek at Hollywood royalty, undying family bonds and show biz fortitude.
GOLDSTONE (director Ivan Sen) — A missing person inquiry brings indigenous detective Jay Swan to a frontier town. What seems like a simple investigation opens a web of crime and corruption. This follow up to Mystery Road is another stylish and political neo-noir.
THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MÄKI (director Juho Kuosmanen) — In the summer of 1962, a small-town baker named Olli Mäki has a shot at the world championship title in featherweight boxing. All he needs to do is lose weight and concentrate. But Olli has fallen in love… Winner: Un Certain Regard, Cannes.
The film was inspired by a real-life showdown between Finnish boxer Olli Mäki and American champion Davey Moore in 1962 Helsinki.
JULIE AND THE SHOE FACTORY (director Paul Calori and Kostia Testut) — Inspired by Jacques Demy and Stanley Donen, this toe-tapping musical comedy centers on a practical young woman whose dreams of financial stability are threatened when it seems that the luxury shoe factory where she has just begun to work will be sold.
AFTERIMAGE (director Andrzej Wajda) — The last feature from the late, great Andrzej Wajda, one of the titans of European cinema, is a poignant and enraging account of how the brilliant Polish artist Wladyslaw Strzemiński was forced to battle against post-World War II Communist orthodoxy.
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (director Colm McCarthy) — When a viral outbreak transforms millions of people into flesh-eating predators, could the fate of civilization rest on the slender shoulders of Melanie, a young “hungry” who has retained her genius-level IQ? Stylish and sophisticated, Colm McCarthy’s impeccably cast, post-apocalyptic thriller is calibrated for maximum tension.
Sennia Nanua plays Melanie in the film that also stars Glenn Close.
Tickets can be purchased online, by phone or in person at the Ticket and Information Center, 777 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Unit 113, in Palm Springs. A souvenir program will also be available starting Jan. 2 at the store. Free parking is available at or near all six venues.
Moviegoers can use the Buzz shuttle Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, visit www.psfilmfest.org or call 800-898-7256.