Jan 4, 200812:42 PMThe Life
Palm Springs International Film Festival Fuels Year Round Tourism
Contact: Cindy Uken - Communications Director
City of Palm Springs
760.323.8250 - January 4, 2008
Gig Harbor, Washington.
La Quinta, California.
Palm Springs, California.
That's just a sampling of the geographical locations throughout the nation from which people are traveling to attend the19th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), which opened Thursday and runs through January 14. It underscores the critical role the festival plays in driving the City's tourism economy.
"The Festival brings a huge tourism benefit to the City," said Mayor Steve Pougnet. "More than 60 percent of the Festival's audience comes from outside the Coachella Valley, generating major tax revenues from our hotels and inns, our restaurants, our retail and recreational outlets and our hospitality service industry partners. The Festival fuels yearround tourism and fosters an image that retains our image as a sun-dappled resort destination that is frequented by stars and others in the entertainment industry."
Some of those attending the 12-day event are novices; some are veterans. George and Anita Stewart have been travelling from Cincinnati to Palm Springs for the Festival for seven years. The couple's appetite was whet from their first experience.
"This is a fascinating place," George Stewart said before the screening of "Then She Found Me." I think the City is regenerating itself. We knew the image of Palm Springs long before we started coming here. We wanted to see what it was all about. We enjoyed it so much, we keep coming back."
For the next 16 days, the couple will make Marquis Villas Resort - and Palm Springs - their home. By the time they depart for the Midwest, the couple estimate they will have spent $10,000 on meals, lodging, car rental and entertainment.
Linda Ann Brain, of Gig Harbor, Washington, is a first-time Festival attendee, and she's soaking up every ounce of the glamour of the world-class event. "Oh, Jimmy, we're on the Red Carpet," she said with a squeal of delight to her companion - as the floodlights washed over the City.
"This," she said emphatically, "brings Hollywood back to the desert." Norm and Linda Lechlitner of La Quinta have travelled across the Coachella Valley to Palm Springs for the Festival for at least a half dozen years. They would not think of missing it.
"It's just an amazing event," Linda Lechlitner said. "The choice of movies is wonderful. We get to see them before the rest of the world sees them. And the revenue it brings in is incredible. It's world-famous."
Norm Lechlitner said the Festival benefits both Palm Springs - and the entire Coachella Valley. "This single event brings recognition to the entire valley all around the world. Palm Springs is becoming a very vital community. That's what we want. It's fabulous."
Kathy Webber from Warrenton, Virginia, is a Film Festival novice. She got her first taste of the event on Opening Night and is already planning to return next year, and the next year, and the next year, and "I heard it's great fun and it's an opportunity to see lots of unusual films," Webber said. "I love Palm Springs. I love the retro 50s homes, the nice restaurants, and the downtown. It's like a village; it's a very vibrant place." Inga and Jim Fall of Seattle, Washington, are also first-time attendees. They heard Helen Hunt was making her directorial debut and wanted to bear witness.
"And, of course, there is the social aspect of it all," Inga said. Though Seattle is home to the Seattle International Film Festival, the couple has never attended it, they said.
This is the ninth consecutive year Kimberly Klink of La Quinta has attended the Film Festival. She estimates that before the curtain falls on the event that will have seen close to 15 films and spent at least $500 in the City. "It's exciting to have people come from all over the world to show their films," Klink said. "Most go on to the Sundance Film Festival. It's thrilling that we get to see them first."
The Palm Springs Film Festival is a world-class cultural and social event, embracing the creative work of the world's finest filmmakers, and bringing directors, producers, writers and actors from the four corners of the globe to Palm Springs to share their vision with residents and tens of thousands of attendees.
It is that cultural experience that has attracted - and continues to attract Corinne Griswold and Nettie Roberts, both of Palm Spring and both educators in the Palm Springs Unified School District. Both have been attending the Festival since its inception.
Roberts, a K-12 math specialist for the School District who plans to see at least a half dozen films this year, said the entire Festival is a profound statement about Palm Springs - that this is a City that embraces both diversity and culture.
"This Festival is a wonderful role model for our students," Roberts said. "It shows that the City values all cultures and that it's open to other cultures. That is very important these days."
Additionally, she said, "I love the success of the Festival. I love the crowds. I love the enthusiasm."
Both educators said the Festival was good when Sonny Bono started it, but it's only gotten better and describe it as "fabulous."
Griswold, a sixth-grade math and science teacher at Raymond Cree Middle School who plans to see about 20 films this year, said, "This Festival provides a picture of the world through the eyes of the people in other countries - not the picture that is filtered through American eyes."
Founded in 1990 by then-Mayor Sonny Bono, the PSIFF is one of the largest film festivals in North America. The Festival features cultural events, filmmaker tributes, industry seminars and an annual black-tie gala award presentation.
This year's Festival 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 www.psfilmfest.org.