Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2017 – 11:52 AM
“It can’t get any better than this.” That’s the yearly take-away comment from guests and celebrities who’ve attended the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) Awards Gala over the past many years.
Thanks to the very much hands-on and watchful eyes of Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner and Gala Chair James Houston, as well as major Awards Gala underwriting from Helene Galen, Houston, Donna MacMillan, Harold Matzner and along with additional funding provided by presenting sponsor Haute Joaillerie, Chopard, with additional sponsorships by Entertainment Tonight and Mercedes-Benz, this year’s annual Award Gala – the 28th – this accolade is again as deserved as ever.
More than 1,500 guests attended the gala this year, while more than 1,000 spectators, some camped out for 12 hours, lined Jackie Lee Houston Plaza opposite the red-carpeted entrance to the Palm Springs Convention Center to shake hands and obtain autographs from the bevy of A-list, formally attired celebrities attending one of the biggest, most influential film festivals in the country.
Just how influential? More than 90 percent of the actors honored by the PSIFF go on to garner Oscars and/or Golden Globes in the year they were also honored in Palm Springs.
Inside the cavernous convention center, super party planner Sheri Kelly, worked her magic yet again and created a purple-hued wonderland featuring individually lighted glass table favors and literally thousands of purple tulips and orchids that where specially grown for the gala.
As you might expect, although Chairman Matzner clearly stated there was no credible threat, security was especially tight, with hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed security personnel, including armored vehicles, statically placed around the building; a sad necessity of the times in which we live.
If anyone is keeping score relative to the celebrities honored at the PSIFF and how they fared with the other upcoming major awards events, here is the list of the PSIFF winners:
• Ruth Negga – Rising Star Award, Loving
• Mahershala Ali – Breakthrough Performance Award, Moonlight
• Nicole Kidman -International Star Award, Lion
• Andrew Garfield – Spotlight Award, Hacksaw Ridge
• Hidden Figures – Ensemble Performance Award
• Natalie Portman – Desert Palm Achievement Award-Actress, Jackie
• Casey Affleck – Desert Palm Achievement Award – Actor, Manchester by the Sea
• Amy Adams – Chairman’s Award, Arrival
• Annette Bening – Career Achievement Award
• La La Land – Vanguard Award
• Tom Hanks – Icon Award
One of the evening’s back-stories was that Tom Hanks, an A-lister about whom no entertainment superlative could ever be overdone, was seated at a table way in the back of the convention center. He could have had any seat in the house, but chose to be at one of the C-level seats in the rear. A lesson, perhaps, to those ladies, (you know who they are), who have been known to rearrange place cards to gain a more desired seat at an event. The moral of the story: It’s not where you sit, but who you sit with, that matters. Or, put another way: I’d take a table next to the restroom to have diner with Tom Hanks.