Palm Springs Fest: Foreign-Language Directors on Their Movies' Origins, Obstacles and Oscar Hopes

No film festival showcases more films from around the world than the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the 28th edition of which began on Jan. 5 and runs through Jan. 16. This year, the fest's lineup includes eight of the nine films that won spots on the Academy's shortlist for the best foreign-language film Oscar (the only one of the nine that isn't screening in Palm Springs is Australia's Tanna). And with Oscar voting running from Jan. 5-13, many of those films' directors visited the desert to be present for their films' screenings — and, on Monday night, to participate on the "Eyes on the Prize" panel, which I moderated for the third consecutive year.

The five films represented on this year's panel, which took place at the Mary Pickford Theatre: Canada's It's Only the End of the World, directed by Xavier Dolan; Iran's The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi; Norway's The King's Choice by Erik Poppe; Sweden's A Man Called Ove by Hannes Holm; and Switzerland's My Life as a Zucchini by Claude Barras.

As you can see for yourself in the video at the top of this post, we covered a wide-range of topics over the course of a 90-minute conversation. Among them: the inspirations behind each film (from historical events to books and plays); the great obstacles each had to overcome; how the films were rolled out to the world (from film festival premieres to royal command performances); and what being Oscar-shortlisted — and the prospect of being Oscar-nominated — means to each of the filmmakers and their respective nations (Farhadi shared a powerful story about the impact of his 2011 Oscar win for A Separation).

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