Hunt is on in Palm Springs

Helming debut 'Found' to open fest

"Then She Found Me," Helen Hunt's directorial debut, will receive its U.S. premiere Jan. 3 as the opening-night feature at the 19th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Hunt stars in the film — which she co-wrote with Victor Levin and Alice Arlen from a novel by Elinor Lipman — as a New York teacher encountering a midlife crisis. With a cast that includes Bette Midler, Colin Firth and Matthew Broderick, the ThinkFilm release is set to bow in May.

The fest also said Tuesday that director John Sayles, whose new film "Honeydripper" will screen as part of its lineup, will be honored Jan. 6 with its American Maverick Award.

In addition to the opening-night gala, the festival will hold six international galas spotlighting such films as Fatih Akin's "The Edge of Heaven" from Germany, Joseph Cedar's "Beaufort" from Israel, Jonah Markowitz's "Shelter" from the U.S. and Daniele Luchetti's "My Brother Is an Only Child" from Italy.

New this year will be a showcase of Israeli film. It will encompass such docus as Nadav Schirman's "The Champagne Sky," Ran Tal's "Children of the Sun," Lavi Ben Gal's "Eight Twenty Eight" and Oded Lotan's "The Quest for the Missing Piece." On the narrative side, titles include Eran Kolirin's "The Band's Visit," Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret's "Jellyfish," David Volach's "My Father, My Lord," Ayelet Menahemi's "Noodle," Dror Shaul's "Sweet Mud" and Amos Gitai's "Disengagement."

The fest runs Jan. 3-14 in Palm Springs. The full program will be announced Monday.