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30 years of Palm Springs International Film Festival

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It started as a dream, then a vision for Sonny Bono,  a man with big Hollywood ties and a love of Palm Springs. It's what helped lead him to be elected mayor of Palm Springs in 1988. 

Bono floated the idea for a major film festival in Palm Springs in early 80s, but it took years of hard work for that to come to fruition.

In 1990, Bono's vision became a reality and Palm Springs launched its first film festival, with the backing of major corporate sponsors like American Airlines and Wells Fargo and the help of local deep pockets. Fundraisers beforehand, like the tennis tournament, were precursors to the actual event.

This tournament was attended by Kim Waltrip, who now, 30 years later, brings her latest film "Walking to Vegas" to the festival.

The first festival drew over 17,000 filmgoers and was received positively by industry trades live variety. In the following years, the festival quickly grew and by its fifth year, it welcomed more than 42,000 visitors and became an economic force within the community.

Check out our Film Festival Coverage

To honor the 30 years of great movies and galas, the festival is offering a retrospective, re-screening films from previous years that were chosen by the audiences as well as the programmers along with other festival favorites.

"So this year we've actually planned something really special. We're doing like 30 films that have played the festival in the past, so we're doing retro screenings of them," said Lilly Rodriguez, festival programmer. 

"For us, all of it is the films. So like, remembering that this festival once showed cinema parodies on the first year, being able to kind of honor that is an interesting thing," said Michael Lerman, the festival's artistic director.

Lerman further elaborated on what the festival is doing to celebrate this 30-year milestone.

"This thing where we're showing 30 movies that we've shown in the past which made the program about 30 movies bigger then it was before," Lerman said.

The festival has been loading up their Twitter feed with excitement from the past 30 years and teasing ahead to this year's gala and the programmed slate of movies to follow. 30-years is an exciting milestone, one that the whole community is invited to celebrate and enjoy together.

Film Festival

KESQ News Team

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