Palm Springs Fest 2016 To Open With ‘The Fencer’, Close with ‘Last Cab To Darwin’

With just over two weeks to go before the January 1 launch of the 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival, the organization has announced the opening and closing films, as well as additional programming.

The festival will open January 1 with the Golden Globe-nominated The Fencer, director Klaus Härö’s historical drama about legendary Estonian fencing coach Endel Nelis set during the closing months of Stalin-era USSR. The film is Finland’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The festival will close January 10 with the U.S. premiere of Last Cab To Darwin, director Jeremy Sims’ adaptation of the 2003 play about a terminally ill cab driver who decides to seek euthanasia at a clinic in the city of Darwin. As the journey progresses, he meets various people and re-evaluates his life. The film stars Michael Caton and Jackie Weaver.

The festival also announced the selections for Talking Pictures, the discussion series that explores the careers and creative choices of filmmakers with a screening followed by on-stage conversation. For 2016, Golden Globe nominee Lily Tomlin will attend a screening of her acclaimed film Grandma, followed by an on-stage interview. The event is presented by Tribeca Short List. In addition, Director Asif Kapadia will attend a screening of his documentary Amy, about the life and death of singer songwriter Amy Winehouse.

The festival has also announced three special presentations. First, Belgium’s Best Foreign Language Film submission The Brand New Testament, a religious satire directed by Jaco Van Dormael and starring Pili Groyne, Benoit Poelvoorde and Catherine Deneuve. Second, the U.S. Premiere of the thriller Eye In The Sky, directed by Gavin Hood and starring Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman and Aaron Paul. And third, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is nominated for three Golden Globe awards including Best Picture-Drama, Best Actor-Drama and Best Director.

In addition, as part of its Dinner and a Movie series, the festival announced a screening of the documentary Cooking Up A Tribute, directors Luis González & Andrea Gómez’ look at famed restaurateurs Josep, Jordi and Joan Roca as they take their renowned El Celler de Can Roca on the road, exploring and incorporating the native cuisines of Mexico, Colombia and Peru in their cooking. The screening will be followed by a dinner at Mr. Lyons restaurant with a menu prepared by chef Tara Lazar and Masterchef finalist Stephen Lee.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival will show a total of 176 films from January 1-11. The full slate will be announced tomorrow.

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