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John Sayles to Receive Palm Springs American Maverick Award

The 19th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Thursday, January 3, 2008 with the U.S. premiere of Then She Found Me, co-written and directed by Academy Award winner Helen Hunt. Marking Hunt’s directorial debut, the film will screen at 6:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs High School followed by an Opening Night Reception at the Desert Museum. Hunt is expected to attend the premiere of her film. The film also stars Bette Midler, Colin Firth and Matthew Broderick. The 19th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival runs January 3-14, 2008 in Palm Springs, CA. The entire 2008 Palm Springs International Film Festival program will be announced on Monday, December 17, 2007.

“It’s rare to see such a seamless crossover from actor to director as that exemplified by Helen Hunt’s witty and emotionally resonant directorial debut, Then She Found Me,” said Festival Director, Darryl Macdonald. “It is rarer still for the director/actor in question to also collaborate on the screenwriting, co-produce and star in said film. With this engaging tale of a woman who finds herself facing a series of major changes in her life, Helen Hunt has proven herself to be that rare treasure in American filmmaking: a talent who can do it all, and who does it all exceptionally well with this deliciously entertaining first feature.”

Then She Found Me is a funny and moving story of April Epner (Helen Hunt), a New York school teacher and her very unlikely path towards personal fulfilment. April hits a midlife crisis when, in quick succession, her husband Ben (Matthew Broderick) leaves her, her adoptive mother dies and her real one Bernice (Bette Midler), an eccentric talk show host, materializes and turns her life upside down. April also begins a courtship with Frank (Colin Firth), the father of one of her students. Then She Found Me, is about identity, connection, the meaning of betrayal and the happy accidents that ultimately define our lives. The screenplay written by Hunt, Vic Levin and Alice Arlen is from an original novel by Elinor Lipman. Then She Found Me is a THINKFilm release, opening in May produced by Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Connie Tavel and Helen Hunt.

On Sunday, January 6, director John Sayles will receive the Festival’s American Maverick Award following the screening of his new feature Honeydripper, which he directed, wrote and edited. The American Maverick Award was established to honor filmmakers who exemplify the true spirit of successful independent American filmmaking, establishing a body of work that both eschews the conventions of standard storytelling and epitomize the best aspects of quality filmmaking. Sayles will attend to accept the award along with producer Maggie Renzi. This is Sayles’ 16th feature film. His other films include Lone Star, Sunshine State, City of Hope, Eight Men Out, The Return of Secaucus Seven, Casa De Los Babys and The Secret of Roan Inish.

Honeydripper is a fable about the birth of rock n’ roll in Harmony, Alabama. Set in 1950, the films tells the story of Tyron Purvis (Danny Glover), proprietor of the Honeydripper Lounge and Sonny Blake (Gary Clark, Jr.), a young drifter with big dreams and a guitar case in his hands. The film features an all-star cast including Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Stacey Keach, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Stacy Keach, Mary Steenburgen, Vondie Curtis Hall, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Kel Mitchell, Yaya DaCosta, R&B legend Mable John, singer-songwriter Ke’b Mo’ and Austin guitar sensation Gary Clark, Jr.

In addition to the Opening Night Gala, the Festival will hold six international galas, a series of special screenings celebrating Festival programming showcases including:

• Awards Buzz Gala: The Edge of Heaven (Germany) – Director Fatih Akin to attend. The film received Best Screenplay awards at the Cannes Film Festival & the European Film Awards. This engrossing road movie traces the intersecting fates of several characters whose lives overlap due to the unexpected relationship between an aging widower and the émigré Turkish prostitute who brings solace to his otherwise lonely life.
• Israeli Film Day Gala: Beaufort (Israel) - Director Joseph Cedar to attend. The film received Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival and is this year’s official Oscar submission from Israel for Best Foreign Language Film. In this searing docudrama, the last days of a legendary Israeli outpost in Lebanon are brought to harrowing life (and death).
• The Gay!La: Shelter (USA) - World Premiere with director Jonah Markowitz to attend.
Returning home from a North African holiday, an Italian couple discovers a young Moroccan boy hiding in their trunk in an attempt to cross the border. They impulsively decide to bring him home to live with them, a decision which ultimately changes the balance in all of their lives.
• Italian Film Gala: My Brother is an Only Child (Italy) – Directed by Danielle Luchetti, the film received Best Actor and Screenplay at the David di Donatello Awards (Italian Oscars). Co-written by the screenwriters of The Best of Youth (Audience Award for Best Film, PSIFF 2004), this coming-of-age story traces the lives of two volatile brothers from opposite sides of the political fence whose lives come together and are driven apart over the course of 15 tumultuous years of Italian history, during the 60’s and and 70’s.

New this year is an Israeli film showcase, titled “New Israeli Cinema: L’Chaim!,” which represents the kickoff of a year-long cultural celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the founding of Israel, called “Israel at 60.” PSIFF will highlight the remarkable vitality of the new Israeli cinema and this will be the first major International Festival where such a critical mass of celebrated and award-winning new Israeli films can be seen at one event.

2007 proved a stellar year for both fiction and documentary, with Israeli films winning prestigious prizes at many of the world’s top film festivals. Remarkably, many of these works were by first time writer-directors. Within these films there is an interesting sub-theme on kibbutz life, with the documentaries, Eight Twenty Eight and Children of the Sun and feature Sweet Mud, making perfect complements, offering varied and different perspectives on the kibbutizim's unique experiment in communal living. The series includes:

• The Champagne Spy, directed by Nadav Schirman, winner Best Documentary from Israeli Film Academy.
• Children of the Sun, directed by Ran Tal, winner Best Documentary at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
• Eight Twenty Eight, directed by Lavi Ben Gal, winner Best Documentary at DocAviv.
• The Quest for the Missing Piece, directed by Oded Lotan

• The Band's Visit, directed by Eran Kolirin, winner Coup de Coeur Award at the Cannes Film Festival; Best Actor and Discovery of the Year Award at the European Film Awards.
• Beaufort, directed by Joseph Cedar, winner Best Director Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
• Jellyfish, directed by Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret, winner Best First Feature, Cannes Film Festival.
• My Father, My Lord, directed by David Volach, winner Best Film, Tribeca Film Festival.
• Noodle, directed by Ayelet Menahemi, winner Best Screenplay and Jury Award, Montreal World Film Festival.
• Sweet Mud, directed by Dror Shaul, winner Best World Film, Sundance Film Festival.
• Disengagement, directed by Amos Gitai and starring Juliette Binoche, Liron Levo and Jeanne Moreau.

Founded in 1990 by then Mayor Sonny Bono, the PSIFF is one of the largest film festivals in North America. The Festival has an attractive film sales and distribution record and is seen by American distributors and international sales agents as one of the best Academy Award campaign marketing tools. The Festival also features cultural events, filmmaker tributes, industry seminars and an annual black-tie gala award presentation.

Renewing their support of this year’s Festival is Title Sponsor, The City of Palm Springs and Presenting Sponsors, Spencer’s Restaurant, The Desert Sun, the City of Indian Wells, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Entertainment Tonight and Wessman Development. Producing sponsors include Mercedes-Benz, the Official Vehicle of the Festival, Integrated Wealth Management, Bank of America, Regal Entertainment, Ciroc/Don Julio/Johnnie Walker and Wells Fargo.

The 19th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, scheduled from January 3-14, 2008, will feature a line up of more than 230 films from 65 countries, seminars, special events and Gala receptions. For additional information call 760-322-2930 or 800-898-7256 or


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