An Elegant Evening With a Profusion of Talent

Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala once again brought blockbuster talent to Greater Palm Springs.

Susan Stein Arts & Entertainment

Gal Gadot catches herself in the moment after receiving the Rising Star Award from Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins Jan. 2 at the Palm Spring Convention Center.

The 29th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Awards Gala kicked off the season with élan as the red carpet at the Palm Springs Convention Center was rolled out to nearly 2,400 guests and notables in the film industry, who received awards for acting, directing, scoring, and lifetime achievement.

The requested dress was black tie optional, and guests embraced the concept of glamour. Locals and celebrities were wearing the latest trends, including a wealth of black, burgundy, purple, and white. Lucite heels made a showing, along with gold sequins, lace, velvet, and sheer netting. Men were seen in traditional tuxes as well as navy blue, plaid, and metallic patterned dinner jackets and even chambray tuxedos. Award winners treated the red carpet as a predictive runway as they opted for bright yellow, pink, greens, and whites, mostly in clean silhouettes.

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The most recognizable trend of the evening developed during the presentation and acceptance speeches, as winners and presenters made allusions to the power of women and the need for 2018 to be a year of love, peace, and commitment. The films and characters portrayed by the awarded actors also reflected these themes. Festival chairman Harold Matzner mentioned that the world should embrace more powerful women similar to the character played by Rising Star Award winner Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman.

The Awards Gala is known to host the heavyweights from the year’s Oscar-contending films, some of which will be screened at the festival, which offers 180 films from more than 77 countries over the next 14 days



Willem Dafoe , who received the Icon Award for his role in The Florida Project, reaches the red carpet.

Mary Hart, host of Entertainment Tonight for 30 years, served as Awards Gala emcee for the 15th consecutive year.

Matzner welcomed attendees as they enjoyed dinner at tables decorated with a water theme that included lit centerpieces filled with 16,000 orchids flown in from Holland for the event. The menu included a roasted quinoa salad, a boneless beef short-rib ravioli tower, and a film reel-themed dessert created of lemon meringue and confetti cake in blueberry sauce and topped with a pistachio mousse filled cone. Dark chocolate film reels kept the guests snacking and sipping wine during the award presentations.

The Gala honored 10 actors and one ensemble team.

Allison Janney (Spotlight Award, Actress)
Gal Gadot (Rising Star Award, Actress)
Gary Oldman (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor)
Holly Hunter (Career Achievement Award)
Jessica Chastain (Chairman’s Award)
Mary J. Blige (Breakthrough Performance Award)
Sam Rockwell (Spotlight Award, Actor)
Saoirse Ronan (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress)
Timothée Chalamet (Rising Star Award, Actor)
Willem Dafoe (Icon Award)
The Shape of Water (ensemble): Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Doug Jones, Guillermo Del Toro, Alexandre Desplat, and J. Miles Dale



Armie Hammer and his wife, Elizabeth Chambers, make their way toward the red carpet.

Presenters included Armie Hammer, Colin Farrell, Common, Kumail Nanjiani, Sean Baker, Laurie Metcalf, Patty Jenkins, Peter Fonda, Salma Hayek, Aaron Sorkin, and Sabastian Stan.

Matzner noted that $2.5 million had been raised for the event by a underwriters that included himself, Jim Houston, Helene Galen, Donna MacMillan, JoAnn McGrath, and Arlene and Jordan Schnitzer. These funds will be used for film society operations and put into the Film Foundation for educational programs. Matzner also thanked the newest presenting sponsor, American Express, as well as Entertainment Tonight, Cadillac, and Chopard.

Gallery photographs by Loretta Vlach.