Friday, January 6, 2012

Opening Night Film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival

2012 poster from
Our fair desert city of Palm Springs continues to be a mecca for the Hollywood elite, film industry moguls... and hopefuls. As The Palm Springs Savant, I try to provide some coverage here and on my radio show about it all. The 23rd Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off last night with an Opening Night screening of the Brit film 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'. The Palm Springs International Film Festival is one of the three largest events of its kind in North America, and one of the most important--if not THE most important film festivals in the US. 

logo from
Founded by former Congressman/Mayor/Entertainer Sonny Bono, today the Festival has become an important stop on for the entertainment industry before the Major Award season in Hollywood, including the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards and the Academy Awards (Oscars).

On the Red Carpet
In addition to tall the glitz and glamor that a film festival can bring, it is also an important vehicle for upcoming film professionals, and especially independent film makers, of which I am particularly passionate. This year, our film festival team viewed 3,000 films, and from the pool of submissions selected 188 films for inclusion in this year's festival. Our festival is also important for women directors to be featured, which sadly are still a minority across the film industry. The Palm Springs Film Fest is also known for our wide variety of foreign films featured. For all these reasons--and more, this is a major event in the entertainment industry. Saturday's Awards Gala will be star studded and full of glamor; I'll be tweeting live from the event if you want to follow, just search Twitter for #PSIFF for all the stream of Tweets under my handle: @RickRockhill.

The Festival's Opening Night film 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' is a British comedy based on the novel by Paul Torday. The film was directed by Lasse Hallström and produced by Paul Webster stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Amr Waked. Originally financed in part by the UK Film Council, and BBC Films the film is distributed by CBS Films and Lionsgate. The story focuses on three primary characters, Fred (McGregor), an uptight civil servant in Her Majesty's Government Fisheries Department, a fishing obsessed Arab Sheik (Waked) and Harriet (Blunt) a financial company representative to the Sheik. 

my tickets to the opening night
The basic plot of the story is that the Sheik wants to bring the sport of Salmon Fishing to his home country (Yemen) and introduce wild salmon so he can fish at home. A few sub plots develop as the main characters sort through their own lives, initial ambivalence to the project and then immerse themselves to making a theoretical possibility come to fruition. 

in the theater opening night
While the story can be somewhat formulaic and slightly predictable at times, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Several themes are nicely woven through the film, such as personal responsibility, faith, motivation, and respect for other cultures, the entire film can be viewed as a metaphor for the West's miscalculation for our involvement in various Middle East conflicts. 
Actress Emily Blunt on the Red Carpet in Palm Springs
While not a judgment, it dangles the thought in the viewers mind of "what if" we had not made certain assumptions, or "what if" we had taken a different approach. Of particular note is the Sheik's own realizations and lessons learned from his dream. Quite telling. McGregor, Blunt, Waked, all gave wonderful performances; in my view Ewan McGregor's was stand out. I thoroughly enjoyed Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and recommend it!
Meanwhile, following the film, I attended the Opening Night Gala held at the Palm Springs Art Museum, one of my favorite places in the desert.  As a festival sponsor, and the official car of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Mercedes-Benz had this gorgeous car parked out in front of the museum, greeting guests to the Gala.
Mercedes-Benz is the official car of the Festival

Twitter Feed for #PSIFF hashtag
Without its sponsors, the Palm Springs Film Festival could not happen. We are grateful to all the sponsors who support through funds, services, goods or PR to make it all come to life each year.

Meanwhile, throughout the evening I was busy reporting live from the event, Tweeting from the Red Carpet, after the film and at the Gala Reception. You can see a snapshot of the Twitter Feed on the Desert Sun website. It was great to kick things off and let others follow along what was happening. 
Fantastic food at the Museum Post Film Gala
Local Palm Springs restaurant Spencer's catered the food for the evening, which was excellent. Spencer's is owned by Festival Chairman Harold Matzner, a great local philanthropist who lives here in the Coachella Valley.
with Producer Kim Waltrip
It is always nice to spend time with the amazing Kim Waltrip, a Palm Springs-based Hollywood film Producer. She is quite talented and a very busy lady too. Next Thursday, January 12th, one of her films 'A Thousand Cuts' will be shown in the Festival (more on that next week). Come back again for more coverage of the Palm Springs Film Festival. 

1 comment:

Digital Traveler said...

Hey Rick,

Great coverage. Lots of things I didn't know like Metzner owning Spencer's.

Looking forward to reading more...

Check out what I'm doing at


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