Lest any of you think that hardworking Palm Springs International Film Festival director Darryl Macdonald takes the rest of the year off when said world-class event wraps every January, rest assured that the man’s job is an endless, full-time, year-round one.
Macdonald and his entire staff are coming off another stellar, record-breaking year with 2013’s 19th Annual Palm Springs International ShortFest Short Film Festival & Film Market. Designed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as an Oscar-qualifying festival, and accredited by the International Short Film Conference, ShortFest and its market are the largest and most prominent short film showcase in North America. In plain English, that means that for the non-pro celluloid aficionados throughout the Palm Springs Valley and the entire Southern California region, ShortFest is the surest place to see some of the most superbly entertaining and thought-provoking shorts being made today by emerging and established filmmaking talent around the world.
I’m quite proud to say that I attended all seven days of ShortFest, which was held from June 18-24 this year and sponsored by—among many others—Rancho Mirage’s own Brandini Toffee and Acqua Pazza California Bistro. Macdonald, obviously, was there each day as well, not only to introduce almost every screening package but to host the Q&A interviews with directors, producers, writers, and actors following each show.
In all, more than 330 documentary and narrative short films from 49 countries were selected for exhibition. Because these works of art run from approximately five to 20 minutes each, they are gathered in themed groups. Just some of the titles of these day and evening programs included “Laughing Matters,” “On the Job,” “Amazing Animation,” “Sibling Stories,” “The Gay-LA!: Men on Top,” “Let’s Talk About Sex,” “C’est Si Bon,” and the star-studded “Shooting Stars,” which showcased mini-movies starring huge talent like singer Tom Jones in his acting debut (unbelievable!) and Oscar-winners Ian McKellen, Brenda Blethyn, and the always wonderful Shohreh Aghdashloo, who was present at the screening of her film “Silk.”
As always, all screenings were held at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs. The jewels on display included 70 world premieres, 55 North American debuts, and 14 U.S. openings. If you’re never attended ShortFest, do yourself a big favor and mark your calendars for 2014. The fest is one of the best summer flings a girl or boy can have! www.psfilmfest.org