Darryl Macdonald, Harold Matzner, Harriet Baron and Laura Henneman -Photo by Pat Krause
Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic
Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic

Over the years I’ve asked Festival Director Darryl Macdonald, the same question: How do you top the success and quality of last year’s festival? Macdonald is an articulate and extremely knowledgeable film and cinema festival professional. He never shoots from the hip. He is one of the most successful film festival producers in the world year after year. Oh, the answer to that question? “I really don’t have a definitive answer. It’s always a group effort” he replies, accompanied by a smile. The man is too modest.

Every opening night of the two major film festivals held in Palm Springs every year has the stamp and support of Festival Board Chairman Harold Matzner. Matzner has been a strong leader in insuring that the two festivals he chairs receive maximum exposure in the ever-crowded field of International film festivals, along with a growing plethora of domestic festivals.

The 21st Annual PSIFF ShortFest is screening 330 films from 50 countries. The film programs are curated into packages of films with similar themes or subject matter. Short films range from two minutes up to 40 minutes. The festival programmers under the trained eye of long-time festival senior programmer Helen DuToit, this year received and screened some 3400 submissions from filmmakers from all over the world. Their ideal target of films to screen is between seven and nine films that add up to between 80 and 90 minutes in length. Within this time parameter viewers will see and enjoy films about every subject imaginable all day and evening.

The opening night program entitled “Make ‘Em Laugh” consisted of seven short films of varying lengths and ran 87 minutes in total. “Love is Blind”, from the UK, directed by Dan Hodgson is a clever and fresh approach to infidelity in a comedic vein with a twist. “Albertine”, A French/Belgian co-production, directed by Alexis Van Stratum, is a tender and charming story of an elderly lady who thinks her life is over, only to find a new beginning in the form of an unexpected knock on her apartment door late one evening.

The opening night audience got the chance to congratulate and applaud almost 100 excited young filmmakers who were in the audience, out of the 600 hundred scheduled to attend during the 6 day festival. Winning films from the PSIFF are eligible for Oscar nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards, so there is a lot on the line for these talented filmmakers.

The festival runs at the Camelot Theatre, Palm Springs from 10:30 AM to 8:30 PM until Sunday, June 21st. The winning films selected by the audience will be screened at the Camelot Theatres all day Monday, June 22nd. For ticket and Festival Pass information, call the Box Office at 760-778-8979.