At the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Books as Well as Movies

Sometimes the best vacation is one where you don't go anywhere at all. For the last three years Ray and I have been spending a week in Palm Springs just like the other tourists going to the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Sonny Bono started the film festival 23 years ago and it keeps getting better every year.

The weather was warm and sunny, the relatives flew in from Florida to join us, and we got to do my two favorite things, go to the movies and eat out. As if that wasn't enough we got to see George Clooney. But this year he was just one of the stars who turned up. Brad and Angelina, Charilize Theron, Adrian Brody, Glen Close and Olivia Wilde to name a few all walked the red carpet. We even gawked as the limos pulled up depositing the stars at the convention center.

The picture my cousin Robert took of George Clooney


This is a great film festival because it features the best foreign films from across the globe and if you can't visit a country the best way to travel there is by watching a movie or reading a book. This blog is about great movies based on great novels.

All I had to do was go into the theatre, wait for the lights to dim and I was sitting in a cafe on a square in 1930' Belgrade. Montevideo, the Taste of a Dream is based on a novel by Vladimir Stankovic. This is a beautiful film, filmed with beautiful actors, which tells the story of a Belgrade soccer team trying to reach Montevideo to participate in the first World Soccer Cup. Some movies are so evocative of a time and a place. Slick and sexy the scene in a jazz club is one of the best I have ever seen.

We wrote our novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships after working aboard a luxury cruise ship. I loved the cruise to Scandinavia and Russia, so when I saw how many movies from that area of the world were showing, I bought tickets to many of them.

A great movie out of Norway is Headhunters. This movie is a thriller in every sense of the word. It is slick and sleek just what you would expect from a Scandinavian movie and the best thing is that the thrills and chills are created without the special effects of most Hollywood blockbusters. Even if you can't see the movie you can read the book. The movie is based on Jo Neb's novel, Headhunters.

The next movie on my list is Generation P out of Russia. There is a chapter in our novel devoted to Moscow; Ray worked there after the fall of communism, when it was just becoming the wild and wicked city featured in the film. This movie is a mixed bag. The first hour is one of the best examples of Russia's transition to capitalism through the eyes of a writer who gets a job in advertising. The second hour however is a bit of a mess. But maybe you just have to be Russian to get all the inside jokes and references, because this movie was a game changer in Russia. This book is based on the novel Generation P written by Victor Pelevin.

I much preferred My Father Baryshnikov which was centered on the school where the Bolshoi dancers are trained. It is a charming tale of a young man who doesn't know who his father is and so he pretends he is Baryshnikov. It was written about a time when all Russians lived in the same type of apartments, ate the same food and wore the same clothes. This movie is an uplifting tale that will make you see 1980's Russia in a new light. A Russian friend of mine agreed that the movie got it just right. Although it was based on the writers life there is no book.

A movie, like a book has the power to change your heart. I defy anyone to go see A Separation, and not come out of the theater with a new understanding of Iranian society. This is just a simple tale of two people going through a divorce, both with faults and problems, but the insights it gives us into modern day Iranian society are priceless.

I love my city and I hope all of you will one day have a chance to travel here during the festival. Where else in one week can you get the chance to see over 200 films from over 70 countries, and only have to pack your bags once.

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Comment by B&B Tarussio on February 17, 2012 at 1:15pm

Hello Cara!

I like so much to watch movies but especially independent film! I'm very keen also on English language as well! Thanks to a lot of movies which I've watched during last few years now, I feel a little bit confident, even if I know that I have a lot to do. English has allowed me to meet and stay in touch with freinds of mine from all over the world. I've never been to any film festival but, after reading your interesting post, I have one more reason to do it as soon as I can.

Thank you again.

See you on Tripatini.


Comment by cyrusholiday on February 14, 2012 at 6:44am

thanks for this info...........

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