Palm Springs International Film Festival canceled due to increase in COVID cases

The Palm Springs International Film Festival is canceled due to the current increase in COVID-19 cases.

The Palm Springs International Film Society said in a statement that it was the “most responsible decision” to ensure the safety of its patrons, filmmakers and staff. Pass holders will receive a refund back to the original payment method.

The festival was scheduled to take place from January 7 to 17. Pass holders would have been required to show full proof of vaccination, photo ID and sign a waiver to enter venues and events, which also applied to the film’s awards ceremony. Participants were also reportedly required to wear masks after California recently reinstated its mask mandate for indoor public spaces. The policy extended to volunteers, staff, guests, sponsors, media and vendors.

Film festival patrons await the start of a film screening at the Palm Springs International Film Festival at the Regal Cinemas in Palm Springs on January 8, 2018. l

Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton said in a statement the city was “disappointed” that the festival could not move forward.

“We know how much anticipated this event is, but we also recognize the risks of holding the Film Festival at this time – and with that in mind, we congratulate President Harold Matzner and his team for putting public safety on in the foreground, ”Middleton said.

Aftab Dada, president of the PS Resorts hotel association and general manager of the Hilton Palm Springs, said it was the “right move” to cancel to keep people safe, but it “hurts even more” d ‘cancel another festival within two years and the impact it will have on local restaurants and retailers.

“It’s a huge loss, especially for the city of Palm Springs, considering it’s the slowest two weeks of the year in the desert. Many groups have been booked from San Diego, County. Orange and Los Angeles, ”Dada said.

Jeffrey Bernstein, owner of the Palm Springs Destination PSP themed merchandise store, is the festival’s official merchandise partner. He said he was “devastated” after he recently opened a pop-up store in Regal Palm Springs with film festival items, which will now sell for 50% off.

“We still sell the merchandise year round, but obviously next month would be the main selling time,” Bernstein said. “We understand why this is necessary, but like the people at the festival, our team put a lot of work into preparing for it.

Tom O’Brien, a Palm Springs resident and film writer for websites like Next Best Picture and GoldDerby, planned to see 22 films during the film festival, averaging about three a day. With several COVID-19 mitigation measures in place, “particularly the vaccination mandate,” he said he felt “safe” to attend. However, he also understands the decision to cancel.

“Of course, I’m sad that Coachella Valley can’t see this remarkable collection of films from around the world, but I think the Film Society is acting responsibly by canceling in-person screenings,” he said. “He was the right thing to do.”

The announcement comes a week after the cancellation of the Palm Springs International Film Awards scheduled for Jan. 6 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Among the stars scheduled to attend the film awards were directors Jane Campion and Kenneth branagh, actors Kristen stewart, Jennifer hudson, Lady Gaga, Andrew Garfield, Jessica chastain, Penelope cruz and the casts of “King Richard” and “Belfast”.

The final film awards ceremony in person was in 2020 and the winners included director Martin Scorsese and actors Joaquin Phoenix, Adam Driver, Jennifer Lopez and Charlize Theron. A crowd of around 500 fans, hoping for autographs or selfies, usually gather at the entrance to the Palm Springs Convention Center to greet the stars as they march down the red carpet. This tradition was not to be part of the 2022 ceremony.

The Palm Springs event typically occupies a high place on the calendar of the festival circuit, which takes place the first week of January before the Golden Globe Awards and the voting deadline for Oscar nominations.

The Palm Springs ShortFest is scheduled to return June 21-27, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival and Film Awards in January 2023. The 2022 Film Awards will team up with Entertainment Tonight to celebrate this year’s winners. The festival will announce the winners of the official selection jury on January 15.

Events that were canceled last year but are still slated to return in 2022 include Palm Springs Modernism Week February 17-27, BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden March 7-20, and Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach country music festival in April at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.

COVID-19 and omicron cases

the nine cities in Coachella Valley reported the largest week-over-week increase in COVID-19 cases on Monday in recent months, approaching the figures observed during the sudden rise of the delta in summer.

In the week ending Monday, 701 cases were reported. This is a 66% increase from the 422 cases reported between December 13 and December 20. Desert Hot Springs, Palm Desert, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage each doubled the number of reported cases in the week ending Monday compared to the previous week.

Riverside County has also seen an increase in its weekly COVID-19 numbers. The county added 3,082 new cases of COVID-19 between December 20 and Thursday. Even though the full week was not reported due to the holidays, this still represents a 21% increase from the 2,546 cases reported from December 13 to 17.

California became the first state to record more than 5 million known coronavirus infections on Tuesday.

The first case of the omicron variant has also been confirmed in Coachella Valley, following a “Major” COVID-19 outbreak at Mastro’s Steakhouse restaurant in Palm Desert.

Riverside County Public Health confirmed nine cases of omicron variants in the county on Monday.

Omicron makes people sick faster than previous variants, according to a study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that confirms what many have already observed.

Although most cases of omicron appear to be relatively mild, people typically show symptoms of COVID-19 three days after being exposed to the virus, rather than around four days with delta and five or more with the virus. origin, the study concludes.

USA Today contributed to this reporting.

Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers the arts and entertainment. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bblueskye. Ema Sasic covers entertainment and health in the Coachella Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ema_sasic.


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Gerald R. Schneider