Friday, January 4, 2008

Palm Springs Film Fest: Opening Night Screening

Today is the first in a series of posts covering the Palm Springs International Film Festival. This world renowned film fest runs from January 3rd-14th and will screen over 225 films from 70 countries. The film festival draws in the major Hollywood actors, directors and producers. Our festival is unique in that it screens more international films than any other film fest in the US; therefore it attracts filmmakers from around the world, looking for their big break into the film industry. Over the next 10 days I plan to share highlights of the festival, including my perspective on a few films that caught my eye. I will also include coverage of:
* Opening Night Screening and Gala (see below)
* Black Tie Star-Studded Awards Gala
* Dick Van Patten Star ceremony on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars
* Private Reception Gala (with surprise guest)
* Closing Night Gala
The Opening Night Screening Gala
Thursday night was an evening of excitement and glamour as the 19th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off with the opening night film screening and gala party. It was a crisp winter night, the desert sky was pitch-black, accented by distant stars and a dramatic moon glowing in the night. The huge Hollywood searchlights majestically scanned the sky, marking the spot where the magic of the film fest was unfolding before the eyes of eager film goers. It was the U.S. premiere of "Then She Found Me," a new film directed by Helen Hunt, in her first stint as a director.
above: the red carpet was lined with press, taking photos and capturing every moment of the evening.
above: Helen Hunt arrives on the Red Carpet at the Palm Springs Film Fest

above left: the Opening Night Screening and Party is the beginning of a busy ten day period for Palm Springs. Over 117,000 people are in town attending various functions and viewing films during the festival. Above right: Here's a cheesy photo of The Palm Springs Savant himself, Mr Rick Rockhill. I wore a black crush-velvet jacket with a nice silk ascot.

The opening film was Then She Found Me, directed by Helen Hunt; a romantic comedy starring Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, & Matthew Broderick. The film is scheduled to open in theatres across America in April, but I had the pleasure of seeing it last night. The basic storyline is about a schoolteacher (Helen Hunt) who is 39 and wants to have a baby. She plays April, a troubled woman, dealing with love interest issues, family challenges and self doubt. She meets her natural mother (Bette Midler) who attempts to get to know her and develop a relationship. An interesting relationship develops between April and Frank (Colin Firth) which winds through the story revealing their complex personalities. While there are one or two points when I felt the April's character's behavior was improbable, the film was entertaining and held my attention. Matthew Broderick portrays April's inept husband Ben masterfully, there were moments when he was cuddly and then annoying. There is a fun surprise at the end which leaves the viewer with a question or two, but with a warm smile none-the-less.

above: Academy Award winning Actress and Director Helen Hunt introduces her film at the Palm Springs Film Festival. It was dark in the theatre so this photo is somewhat grainy. I thought Helen was delightful- she came across as down to earth and humble.
The After Movie Gala Party

Helen Hunt attended the after party and mingled with guests discussing her film. Above: there was a huge after party at the Palm Springs Art Museum, with a delicious buffet with fresh fruit and vegetable platters, cheeses, shrimp, pastas and beef. It was catered by Spencer's Restaurant at the Mountain, a top restaurant here in the desert.

above left: fabulous desserts from these petite fours to brownies, cookies and fresh fruits. above right: dramatic lighting provided atmosphere to the museum. There was live music just beyond this bar in the center of the room.

above: I ran into friend Maggie Downs (white jacket), a rising-star reporter for The Desert Sun newspaper. She is with her colleagues Marilyn Chung (front) and... oh I forgot the other lovely young woman's name...hopefully someone will read this and remind me! Anyway it was a terrific evening and a great way to kick off the Film Festival
-Rick Rockhill


Cheryl said...

Thank you so much for sharing your Palm Springs Life with us. I always look forward to the journey.

Ms. Tuesday said...

I've been tot he NY film festival (in college) but never to any of the swanky parties. This looks like fun!

Marlupe said...

I love Bette Midler! I liked her in Beaches, it is still one of my favorites. I can't wait to see this movie.

Sharon said...

A quick shout out from an admirer in chilly New Jersey (20 degrees! Brr!).

Rick, I had read that there was supposed to be some kind of tribute there to Jerry Weintraub. Do you know when that will be? I have a friend who lives in Palm Springs who adores his wife, singer Jane Morgan.

Thanks. - Sharon -

Palm Springs Savant said...

Sharon- Yes! On Saturday Jerry Weintraub will receive the Screen Actors Guild Foundation Patron of the Arts Award. She should be able to see Jerry walk down the red carpet at the Black Tie Awards Gala on Saturday night.

Odat said...

Oh I wanna be there too!

Seraphine said...

I *love* Helen Hunt, that pink belt is to die for.

Diane J Standiford said...

Great cast, looking forward to Hunt--the director.

Seamus said...

That sounds like a fun festival!

Looking forward to the Hunt movie!

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Why have you never been at an event with Britney Spears? Just joking.

Helen Hunt is one of the classiest actresses out there. Thank you for posting about her.

As much as I love the pictures of the attractive people, I think you are the best looking person there! ;) I love your attention to detail.

Dana said...

That's it! I'm running away from home to Palm Springs!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick, Your blog is the best. I love it. I learn more about my home town here than anywhere else. Please tell me if you can where the red carpet event is going to be. I want to catch a glimpse of Mr. Weintraub's wife who was my idol when I was a kid so so so many years ago. thanks. Caroline

Palm Springs Savant said...

anonymous- the BIG Red Carpet event will be held on Saturday January 5th at the Convention Center starting around 5:15 or 5:30. There are going to be some big name stars here this year!!!

snowelf said...

This is so very cool! :) I almost feel like I'm there. I swear, you have such a fascinating life!!


LouLou! said...

I adore the fact that whenever I visit your blog, I learn that you are in a far more culturally active location than me and and can see yummy deserts AND photos of you wearing an ascot. Who else could pull that off?

It looks like there are some wonderful films being screened......I'd rather be hanging with you this week!

Canadian flake said...

Sounds like a very cool night...glad you had a great time.


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