Palm Springs spot? 'Priceless'

Tautou starrer selected to close 222-film festival

The 19th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival announced its complete 2008 lineup Tuesday, with a screening of the Audrey Tautou starrer "Priceless" set as the event's closing film.

In all, the Jan. 3-14 festival will screen 222 feature films from more than 66 countries, with 69 premieres and 55 screenings of official Oscar submissions for foreign-language film. The U.S. premiere of "Before the Rains" (USA/India) will be spotlighted during its World Cinema Now Gala.

Festival director Darryl Macdonald described the event as "more streamlined" than in years past. Last year, Palm Springs featured 254 films from 73 countries.

"The result is a richer and more focused event that maintains the festival's concentration on quality international programming while highlighting the diversity of its offerings in a more accessible, audience-friendly way," Macdonald said.

Helen Hunt's directorial debut, "Then She Found Me," will be the fest's opening-night feature, and "Atonement" director Joe Wright will be honored with the Sonny Bono Visionary Award; other nods are set for Sean Penn as director of the year and Halle Berry as the recipient of the Desert Palm Achievement Award.

Films making their world premieres include the U.S.' "Chihuly in the Hotshop," "Cosmic Radio," "Hollywood Singing & Dancing" and "Icons," from the U.S., Romania and Bulgaria.

The New Voices/New Visions Award will honor one film from an international talent making his or her first or second film, while the John Schlesinger Award will acknowledge the narrative or documentary work of a first-time filmmaker.

In addition to the World Cinema Now program, which features 77 films from contemporary international cinema, the fest's True Stories program showcases 25 films from the world of contemporary nonfiction cinema. Cine Latino will highlight emerging talent from the Latino film world.