Palm Springs fest to spotlight Oz

New program will highlight Australian productions

The Palm Springs International Film Festival has introduced a new program highlighting Australian cinema.

Organized in partnership with G'Day USA, the Australian Consulate General in Los Angeles and Tourism Australia, the program will feature Robert Connolly's "The Balibo Conspiracy," Rachel Ward's "Beautiful Kate," Ana Kokkinos' "Blessed," Tom Murray's "In My Father's Country," Glendyn Ivin's "Last Ride," Kriv Stender's "Lucky Country," Sarah Watt's "My Year Without Sex," Warwick Thornton's "Samson & Delilah" and Ted Kotcheff's "Wake in Fright."

"The Australian production boom was brought on by tax incentives, but it is the new talent behind the work that will sustain it," fest director Darryl Macdonald said.

Also, as part of its Awards Buzz program, the Jan. 7-18 fest will screen 41 of the 65 films that have been submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for best foreign language film consideration.

Out of the 188 pics that will screen at the fest, 66 are eligible for the John Schlesinger Award for outstanding first feature or documentary.

The fest also announced the 12 films from new international film-makers (those making their first or second films) that will be eligible for the New Voices/New Visions Award.

They are Frederic Dumont's "Angel at Sea," Ward's "Kate," Ounie Lecomte's "A Brand New Life," Nicolo Donato's "Brotherhood," Vladimir Paskaljevic's "Devil's Town," Ahmad Abdalia's "Heliopolis," Alejandro Fernandez Almendras' "Huacho," Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel's "La Pivellina," Laxmikant Shetgaonkar's "The Man Beyond the Bridge," Rigoberto Perezcano's "Northless," Urszula Antoniak's "Nothing Personal" and Wolfgang Fischer's "What You Don't See."