People are often curious about what goes on behind the scenes at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. They want to know what it takes to present more than 180 films from 60 countries in more than 450 separate screening events for an enthusiastic audience of more than 135,000. The answer: volunteers. More than 700 volunteers contribute their time and talents every year.
The Auen Foundation is supporting this effort with a $25,000 grant to the Festival’s Senior and Active Retirement Programs, which aid in the recruitment, training, management and retention of many of the festival’s volunteers.
“Seniors continue to enthusiastically embrace the volunteer opportunities at both festivals and year-round,” said Harriet Baron, Director of Development for the Palm Springs International Film Society, which produces both the International Film Festival in January and the Palm Springs International ShortFest in June. “The extent to which they have contributed to our organization is incalculable.”
Prior to the Festival, volunteers assist the small, year-round staff by answering phones, performing clerical functions, distributing posters and rack cards and cataloguing films in the programming department. Once the City’s premier event is underway, a complex scheduling system ensures that volunteers are taking tickets at every screening, counting ballots for the Audience Awards, welcoming guests at Festival parties and special events and making everyone feel like a VIP at the Awards Gala.
“We sincerely thank the Auen Foundation for supporting this essential program, which ensures our senior volunteers are utilized efficiently and are truly made a part of the team that helps run a successful film festival,” said Darryl Macdonald, Executive and Festival Director.
In addition to the Auen Foundation’s support of the volunteer program, the grant also partially underwrites the distribution of free screening tickets and the Festival’s free shuttle service, which is huge benefit for local seniors. Baron said the majority of the viewing audiences are comprised of local seniors, and retired, active adults also contribute to the large out-of-town group business.
“Transportation is often an issue for seniors on fixed incomes, many of whom cannot drive,” said Catharine Reed, Senior Program Officer for the Auen Foundation. “The partnership with the Palm Springs International Film Festival enriches the lives of our local seniors by providing them more access to this world-class event.”
The 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in North America, runs January 1–11, 2016. The Awards Gala, held on Saturday, January 2, honors cinematic achievements from some of Hollywood’s most celebrated talents. For more information about the Palm Springs International Film Festival or how to volunteer, visit www.psfilmfest.org or call 760–322-2930 or 800–898-7256.
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