Palm Springs International Film Festival will open with ‘The Fencer’

Mart Avandi stars in "The Fencer," directed by Klaus Haro.

Mart Avandi stars in “The Fencer,” directed by Klaus Haro.

(Little Film Co.)

The Palm Springs International Film Festival announced Thursday that it will open with Klaus Härö’s “The Fencer,” a recent Golden Globe nominee for foreign language film. The Palm Springs fest will close with the U.S. premiere of Jeremy Sims’ “Last Cab to Darwin.”

All told, the annual festival will screen 176 films at this year’s event, which runs from Jan. 1-11.

The festival also announced two events as part of its Talking Pictures program. One will feature a screening of Paul Weitz’s “Grandma” followed by an in-person conversation with star Lily Tomlin. Director Asif Kapadia will attend a screening of his documentary “Amy,” a portrait of singer Amy Winehouse.

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Three special presentations were also announced, Jaco Van Dormael’s “The Brand New Testament,” Gavin Hood’s “Eye in the Sky” and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “The Revenant.”

Earlier this week the festival announced a lineup of premieres, plus the New Voices/New Visions competition and Modern Masters section.

“The line-up this year, while full of unexpected surprises, vividly reflects what is going on in the world around us,” said festival director Darryl Macdonald in a statement. “All in all, it’s about as well-rounded, as thoughtfully chosen, and as provocative as it’s possible for a smartly curated lineup of new international cinema to be.”

“I am thrilled at the breadth and depth of this year’s program,” said Festival artistic director Helen du Toit in a statement.

The New Voices/New Visions competition will showcase 12 U.S. premieres from international directors making their feature film debut at the festival, with a juried prize that includes a $60,000 camera package.

The Modern Masters program will feature films from established filmmakers and includes Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Cemetery of Splendour,” Jacques Audiard’s “Dheepan,” Barbara Kopple’s “Miss Sharon Jones!,” Jia Zhangke’s “Mountains May Depart,” Arnaud Desplechin’s “My Golden Days” and numerous other titles.

Also announced as part of the festival program are screenings of “45 Years,” “Anomalisa,” “Eisenstein in Guanajuato,” “February,” “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” “Hitchcock/Truffaut,” “The Invitation,” “The Lady in the Van,” “The Invitation,” “Louder Than Bombs,” “Men & Chicken,” “The Seventh Fire” and “Where to Invade Next.”

In addition to the festival’s film programming, there is also an awards gala on Jan. 2 when Matt Damon will receive the Chairman’s Award. The awards gala has become a vital stop during the ongoing awards campaigns. Among the other honorees are such awards season contenders as actors Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Michael Fassbender, Brie Larson, Rooney Mara, Saoirse Ronan and Alicia Vikander, and director Tom McCarthy.


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