Amma Asante's British film “Belle” will kick off the 25th anniversary edition of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which runs from Jan. 3-13, and is expected to draw crowds in excess of 135,000.
"Belle" follows the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy captain and enslaved African woman with Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the lead role. The cast also includes Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon and Tom Felton.
The festival wraps up with director Roger Michell’s “Le Week-End.” The film, which stars Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, follows a married couple’s trip to Paris in an attempt to rekindle their love.
“This year’s lineup is particularly diverse in theme and content, encompassing vintage work by established directors alongside auspicious debuts by a vast number of newly emerging talents,” said festival director Darryl Macdonald. “The overall quality of the films vividly reflects the banner year we’ve seen in cinema worldwide, with a trend towards more personal, character-driven stories that defy easy genre labels, making for a much richer, more satisfying cinematic experience.”
The festival features 187 films from 60 countries and 77 international cinema premieres. Twelve films will compete for the festival’s New Voices/New Visions Award with nominees hailing from Slovenia, Chile, Iceland, South Korea and other countries.
The festival will also honor such stars as Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, director Steve McQueen and the cast of "American Hustle." Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep was named this year's Icon Award recipient.
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