19th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival
This fest seems to gain a little more wallop each year. For 2008, there are more than 230 films from more than 70 countries, plus tributes, Q&As with filmmakers and gala celebrations. Among highlights: an outdoor singalong screening of "Hairspray" (lyrics will be provided in subtitles).
When, where: Jan. 3 to 14 at various Palm Springs venues.
Cost: Individual screening tickets cost $9 or $10, screening passes from $275 to $2,000, a "Reel Deal Six Pack" (six tickets for the price of five) is $45 (available only until Jan. 3), gala tickets from $40 to $15,000.
Info: (800) 898-7256, www.psfilmfest. The website will have a complete list of films and events beginning Dec. 26.
Berlin & Beyond Film Festival
February's Berlin film festival may be one of the top such events in Europe, but we get a taste of that happening with Berlin & Beyond, a San Francisco film fest with new movies and classics from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The festival opener is Christian Petzold's thriller "Yella"; the closer is Bavarian filmmaker Marcus Rosenmüller's comedy "Grave Decisions."
When, where: Jan. 10 to 16 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco, and the Goethe-Institut, 520 Bush St., San Francisco; and Jan. 19 at the Point Arena Theatre, Highway 1 in Point Arena.
Cost: $10 for individual films, $12 for silent films, $10 for panel discussion.
Info: (415) 263-8760 or www.berlinandbeyond.com.
South Beach Comedy Festival
The annual fest goes straight for the belly laughs with a lineup including Kathy Griffin, Louis C.K. and Susie Essman ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Spanish-language comedians Andres Lopez and "Despierta, América" host Raul Gonzalez, plus an assortment of up-and-comers and unknowns.
When, where: Jan. 16 to 19 at various venues in Miami Beach.
Cost: Free to $67.50.
Since its founding in 1976, Boston's First Night has become a massive event, drawing more than a million people and showcasing arts and music, ice sculptures (five sculptures at 30 to 45 tons each), fireworks and more. Revelers can spend the last day of 2007 dancing to rocking bands, listening to storytellers, attending an interfaith church service or watching improv comedy, among other activities.
When, where: 1 p.m. to midnight Dec. 31 at more than 40 indoor and outdoor venues throughout downtown Boston.
Cost: All outdoor events are free. A button ($15 in advance, $20 on the night of the event) provides admission to all indoor events.
Info: (617) 542-1399, www.firstnight.org.
New Year's Eve is a hoot in tiny Brasstown. Country store Clay's Corner orchestrates the annual Opossum Drop with live music by a bluegrass band plus a church choir; a blessing that involves chanting and the shooting of muskets; the opossum drop; and at midnight, fireworks. (Of the celebrated opossum, a store rep says, "We don't drop him. We just lower him gently in a plexiglass cage.")
When, where: Clay's Corner, 1005 U.S. 64 West.
Info: (828) 837-3797, www.clayscorner.com.
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