Palm Springs International Film Festival begins Friday

A-list stars to be honored include Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and U2

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - As the winter holidays conclude, the city is gearing up to host the 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, which starts Friday.

For local business owners, this is as good as it gets. 

"It brings us lots of business. Most places are busy on the weekends anyway, but this brings us business the entire week. Hotel and restaurant owners love it," Barb Cohen, owner of Palm Springs Rendezvous Bed and Breakfast, said. 

"It builds tourism on a year round basis.  It's not just what the Film Festival and gala provide during, but it spurs tourism on a year-round basis. It spurs people to come back here and buy a second home," Darryl MacDonald, director of the Film Festival, said. 

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The festival, which ends Jan. 13, includes a sold-out gala Saturday at the Palm Springs Convention Center where A-list stars will be honored, including Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Bruce  Dern and U2.

Screenings start at 9:30 a.m. Friday and will be held throughout the  festival at the Palm Springs Art Museum's Annenberg Auditorium, Camelot Theatres, Palm Canyon Theatre, Palm Springs High School and Regal Cinemas.

The festival draws more than 130,000 people a year to view features and  documentaries, including works by new directors and 45 of this year's  submissions in the Foreign Language Academy Award category. More than 180 films  from 60 countries -- including 77 premieres -- will be screened, and Canadian  films will receive a special focus, according to organizers.

``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.

For tickets and more information on the festival, call (760) 322-2930 or  go to

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