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Follies Say Farewell, Film Fest Announces Audience Favorites

Follies Guest Star Maureen McGovern

“Where were you the past three years?” asked Riff Markowitz, emcee and co-founder of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, to the SRO audience that filled the historic Plaza Theater in downtown Palm Springs. He was not being entirely facetious.

An icon in the Desert for more than two decades, this year marks the Follies’ closing season, due in part to rising costs and dwindling attendance.

But there is still time to share the music and dance of the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s as presented by a cast between the ages of 55 and 84, wearing $1 million worth of costumes.

The Follies runs through May 18, with limited availability. For tickets and Information call 760-327-0225.

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We ended last week’s column on the Palm Springs International Film Festival wondering how chairman Harold Matz-ner and his movie minions could ever top this year’s festival excitement and celebrity participation.  While we still don’t know what’s in store next year, we can tell you when it will be happening.

The 26th annual festival opens on Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, with the screening of its opening night movie Friday evening, with a party to follow at the Palm Springs Art Museum. The annual Awards Gala will be held the next night at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

The festival will close on Sunday, Jan. 11,  with the “Best of the Fest” screenings on Jan. 12.

As Film Festival excitement builds the next 11 months, we would be remiss if we failed to mention those hardworking filmmakers who—while less known than the stars walking the red carpet—presented such quality work at the Film Festival, they were also recognized with prestige prizes, based upon audience choice.

This year’s festival attendees selected based-on-true-events, Lakshmi (India), as the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. The film presents the heart-wrenching story of a 13-year old girl kidnapped and sold into prostitution, and her courageous stand against her oppressors.

The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia (USA). It’s an exploration of the life, times and work of the late American writer.

The winners of the top two awards were chosen on the basis of 70,000+ ballots cast by audience members during the festival.

It’s not too late to plan on attending next year’s Film Festival; after all, the people who run it are already hard-at-work to top this year’s event. For more information about partaking in next January’s excitement, call 760-322-2930.

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Two big-number anniversaries will be celebrated Feb. 8 when the 20th Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Gala returns to the Palm Springs Convention Center to honor those who have been a big part of Desert AIDS Project over the non-profit’s 30 years of service to the communities of the Coachella Valley.

Long on the short list of “must attend” black-tie events, the Steve Chase Gala is the top fundraiser for Desert AIDS Project, which last year raised more than $1.4 million for client medical care, case management and social services.

Not only is the entertainment Broadway-quality, the pre-dinner silent auction is one of the biggest and well-stocked treasure hunt of any similar auction in the Valley.

More information about the gala is at 760-323-2118.

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