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Global Forum on Directing
Palm Springs International Film Festival Highlights Contenders for Foreign Oscar
By Gregg Schwenk

Palm Springs, CA  - The 21st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present THE CONTENDERS: TELLING IT LIKE IT IS a series focusing on the films and filmmakers emerging as front-runners leading up to the Academy Award nominations. A major highlight will be a discussion by four directors of official Foreign Language Oscar submissions. The directors will discuss their careers, work and the ways in which their films reflect current events and issues in their home countries.
Commenting on the program Darryl Macdonald said, "We're delighted to be hosting a large number of award-worthy directors at this year's Festival, and have built our 2010 Talking Pictures programs around their work, providing audiences with the opportunity to enrich their movie-going experience through participation in these interactive events. This is one key element that sets film festivals apart from the everyday film-going experience.

Sunday, January 10, 10:00 a.m.; Cranberry Raisinets - Palm Canyon Theatre
The Palm Springs International Film Festival partners with Variety to present this candid panel discussion featuring a number of the top directors in consideration for the official Foreign Language Oscar submission. Moderating the panel will be Variety film critic and features editor Peter Debruge. Participating filmmakers include:
Ursula Meier has been hailed as one of the brightest lights of the emergent European film scene, having won Best Film and Best Screenplay on her home turf as well as a French Caesar nomination for her first film Home, after having won awards at Clermont-Ferrand and Creteil for her previous short films.
Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti have garnered major acclaim for their powerful feature debut, Israel's Oscar submission Ajami. Plaudits so far include five awards from the Israeli Film Academy (including best director, screenplay, and film), a Camera d'Or Special Mention from Cannes, and three top prizes (including the Audience Award) from the Thessaloniki Film Festival.
Warwick Thornton arrives as one of the most heralded young directors of our time, having won the Camera d'Or at Cannes this year as well as awards for best film, director, and screenplay at the Australian Film Awards for his highly regarded debut feature, Samson & Delilah. His previous shorts won awards at both the AFI and Berlin film festivals.
Felix van Groeningen is considered one of the pioneers of well received features Steve + Sky and With Friends Like These, The Misfortunates, which received a Special Mention for the CICAE Award at Cannes and is now Belgium's Foreign Language Oscar submission.

Palm Springs International Film Festival was founded in 1990 by then-Mayor Sonny Bono. This year's Festival will include over 400 screenings of more than 200 films from approximately 60 countries. The Festival presents a majority of the films submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Language category for the Academy Awards, as well as a large number of American independent and international features and documentaries marking their world, North American or U.S. debuts. Screenings are held on 15 screens throughout Palm Springs.

The Festival's 21st Annual Awards Gala was presented by Cartier and sponsored by Entertainment Tonight and Mercedes-Benz.
Renewing sponsors of this year's Festival are Title Sponsor The City of Palm Springs and Presenting Sponsors The Desert Sun, the City of Indian Wells, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Spencer's Restaurant and KPSP Local 2. Major Sponsors include Bank of America, Ketel One, Johnnie Walker and Don Julio, Regal Entertainment Group, Wells Fargo, Verizon, Integrated Wealth Management, Guthy-Renker, Wessman Development, Ocean Properties Development, Chihuly Art Glass and Chop House Edit.
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Gregg Schwenk is a writer, educator, and entrepreneur. He reports on a number of various subjects including: film, art, technology and politics. Mr. Schwenk is an adjunct professor at CSUF's Center for Entertainment and Tourism located in Orange County, California. He is also a consultant and advisor to several entertainment and technology firms. In 2005, Mr. Schwenk was appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce, to the District Export Council. He has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and completed the Advanced Management Program at USC.

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