The Coachella Valley’s premier red-carpet event, widely considered the official start of “season,” will be a powerful affair this month. Transcending the star-studded Palm Springs International Film Festival programming are the storylines that lifted at least two of its honorees to high acclaim.
The festival, in its 21st year, will honor Morgan Freeman (Career Achievement Award for Acting) and Mariah Carey (Breakthrough Performance Award) at its Jan. 5 gala at Palm Springs Convention Center. Both star in groundbreaking movies that opened late last year.
The Academy Award-winning Freeman portrays Nelson Mandela in Invictus, an inspiring true story of how newly elected President Mandela and Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), captain of South Africa’s rugby team, set out to unite their country through the universal language of sport.
Carey, a five-time Grammy Award winner, shed her glamorous exterior, transforming into the frumpy welfare caseworker, Ms. Weiss, in another true story, the unforgettable Precious. The spirited film — based on the 1996 novel Push and winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the audience award at Sundance Film Festival — follows Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a morbidly overweight, pregnant, and poverty-stricken 16-year-old who is assigned to Ms. Weiss after enrolling in a literacy program. It’s a tough sit, with its incest, physical abuse from her mother, and all the ills of urban poverty. But the power of this film will surely resonate at this year’s Academy Awards.
Other awards recipients include Helen Mirren (Career Achievement) Jeff Bridges (Desert Palm Achievement), Jason Reitman (Director of the Year for Up in the Air), Anna Kendrick (Rising Star Award for Up in the Air), T-Bone Burnett (Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing for Crazy Heart, which stars Bridges), Jeremy Renner (Breakthrough Performance/Male for The Hurt Locker).
The festival — which continues through Jan. 18 — also features screenings of more than 175 films from 60 countries, special events, panel discussions, receptions, and parties. Call 1-760-322-2930
See you at the theater!