nullThe complete lineup for the 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) has been announced, and, browsing over the list, there are a handful of films that have been highlighted here on S&A.

Of special note is Amma Assante’s Belle, which will not only be making its USA premiere, but will also hold the prestigious honor of being the festival’s opening night film.

Fox Searchlight will release the movie in USA theaters next year, on May 22014. But if you happen to live in the Palm Springs area, here’s a chance to see it several months sooner than the rest of us.

The period drama about the trials and tribulations of a mixed-race girl, in the 1700s, made its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 4 months ago.

It stars Gugu Mbatha-RawMiranda RichardsonTom Wilkinson, Sarah GadonSam Claflin, and Matthew Goode

The story takes place in the 1780s, and is based on a true story – specifically, the true story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as an aristocrat in 18th-century England. It follows Belle, adopted into an aristocratic family, who faces class and color prejudices. As she blossoms into a young woman, she develops a relationship with a vicar’s son who is an advocate for slave emancipation. 

Her full name was Dido Elizabeth Belle, born 1761, died 1804; she was the illegitimate daughter of John Lindsay (a white British Naval officer) and an African slave woman known only as Belle

Mbatha-Raw of course plays the lead role. 

The project was developed and supported by the British Film Institute

It also co-stars Tom Felton (from the Harry Potter movies), Sam Reid (playing Belle’s love interest), James Norton and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey). 

Misan Sagay penned the script; Damian Jones produced.

Zeba positively reviewed the film at TIFF. Read her thoughts HERE.

It’ll be just one of 187 films from 60 countries that will screen at PFIFF, which runs from January 3-13, 2014
8 of those 187 films are world premieres, 22 are North American premieres, and 47 are US premieres. 
“This year’s line-up is particularly diverse in theme and content, encompassing vintage work by established directors alongside auspicious debuts by a vast number of newly emerging talents,” said festival director Darryl Macdonald. “The overall quality of the films vividly reflects the banner year we’ve seen in cinema worldwide, with a trend towards more personal, character-driven stories that defy easy genre labels, making for a much richer, more satisfying cinematic experience.”
I’ll be scrubbing the lineup more thoroughly for titles to highlight on S&A. In the meantime, feel free to take a look for yourselves HERE.