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Palm Springs Film Festival

Get the inside scoop on the Palm Springs Film Festival.

Stars align at the Palm Springs Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in the United States. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Stars align at the Palm Springs Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in the United States.

Kick off the winter awards season in style by attending the Palm Springs Film Festival. Brush elbows with some of the biggest celebrities and filmmakers in Hollywood at private screenings, glamorous galas and in-depth film discussions.

History of the Palm Springs Film Festival

Founded in 1990 by then-mayor Sonny Bono and hosted by the Palm Springs Film Society, the Palm Springs Film Festival takes place each year in January. A Black Tie Awards Show, which attracts famous actors and filmmakers, marks the beginning of the festivities. Every national entertainment show and television network, as well as over 1,400 daily newspapers, covers the event.

The Palm Springs Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in the United States and a stepping stone to the Academy Awards. The festival includes screenings of many films submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Language category of the Academy Awards. The Palm Springs Film Festival screens over 200 films from approximately 60 different nations. Screenings are held at 15 theaters throughout the Palm Springs area. The festival also screens a large number of American independent films and international features and documentaries making their debut in the United States, North America or the world.

Palm Springs Film Festival Events

In addition to over 400 screenings of 200 films, the Palm Springs Film Festival hosts a myriad of glamorous events and galas. Festival events include:

  • Black Tie Awards Gala, held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, attracts the biggest actors and actresses, filmmakers, media, industry professionals and film fans for a glamorous, red carpet, black tie event that marks the beginning of the winter awards season. Previous presenters and honorees of the Awards Gala include Sean Penn, Halle Berry, Kate Winslet, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller and Charlize Theron.
  • Opening Night screening and party is a screening of a featured film at the Palm Springs High School. Viewers then attend a reception at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
  • The Houston Gala is an annual closing weekend party thrown by Jim and Jackie Lee Houston, longtime Festival supporters and philanthropists, at their estate. Each year the gala features an outrageous movie theme, such as tributes to Breakfast at Tiffany's or the Golden Globes. Past performers include Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.
  • Talking Pictures is a series of onstage interviews, panel discussions, seminars and master classes featuring noted critics, commentators and industry experts. Each session features a film screening or clips as part of the in-depth discussion with prominent and talented filmmakers working in contemporary cinema.

Ticketing Information

Advance tickets for the Palm Springs Film Festival go on sale annually in December. People can purchase tickets in one of three ways:

  • At Festival box offices, which are located at the Regal Cinemas Palm Springs Stadium 9, 789 Tahquitz Canyon Way or the Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road. Tickets may be purchased during operating hours.
  • By phone at 1-800-898-PALM between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  • Online at the official Web site, 24 hours a day.


Individuals can also purchase tickets for individual events and screenings. Each screening and panel discussion has a general admission price of $11. The Opening Night and Closing Night Gala and Screening are each $50 to attend. Pricing for the Houston Gala starts at $350.

Individuals wishing to attend multiple screenings and events may purchase passes. Five types of passes are available ranging in price from $275 to $2,500. Passes include:

Benefactor Pass: $2,500

This all-inclusive pass grants admission to Opening Night, Closing Night, the Houston Gala, the Black Tie Awards Gala, gala film screenings, regular film screenings, seminars and programs. This pass secures seating at every screening up until show time.

Concierge Pass: $1,500

This photo identification pass grants admission to Opening Night, Closing Night, regular film screenings, gala film screenings and seminars. Advance reservations are required for reserved seating.

Platinum Pass: $400

Also a photo identification pass, the Platinum Pass grants admission to regular film screenings, gala film screenings and seminars. It excludes admission to Opening Night, Closing Night, the Houston Gala and all receptions and parties.

Silver "A" Pass: $275

This photo identification pass grants admission to all regular film screenings, international gala screenings and seminars for the first half of the film festival. It excludes admission to Opening Night, Closing Night, the Houston Gala, all receptions and parties and Best of the Fest screenings.

Silver "B" Pass: $275
Also a photo identification pass, the Silver "B" Pass grants admission to all regular film screenings, international gala screenings and seminars for the second half of the film festival. It excludes admission to Opening Night, Closing Night, the Houston Gala, all receptions and parties and Best of the Fest screenings.

Where to Stay

Out-of-town visitors attending the Palm Springs Film Festival have several options for accommodations. The Hilton Palm Springs Resort is located across the street from the Festival Theater and just a short walk from Main Street in downtown Palm Springs.

Guests looking for a romantic hideaway should consider the charming Casa Cody Country Inn, while guests interested in an ultra-hip Hollywood experience might enjoy Hotel Zoso. Other options include the luxurious Riviera Resort and Spa or the newly renovated Colony Palms Hotel, which was featured on Conde Nast Traveler's 2008 Hot List.

The budget-conscious traveler might consider staying at the Pepper Tree Inn, Quality Inn Resort, or the Vagabond Inn. Individuals can view a full list of festival accommodations here.

The Palm Springs Film Festival and area accommodations are all within a short distance of Palm Springs International Airport.

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