The Palm Springs International Film Festival will roll out the red carpet on January 2, but before then volunteers are working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure all details are in place. By the time international media is reporting celebrity sightings at local haunts, more than 600 volunteers will be in place to help orchestrate one of the largest film festivals in North America.
The Auen Foundation is supporting this effort with a $25,000 grant to the Festival’s Senior and Active Retirement Program, which aids in the recruitment, training, management and retention of many of the festival’s volunteers.
“Our volunteers are somewhat the unsung heroes of our festivals,” 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. “Most of them are retired residents and snowbirds, and many are in their 10th or 20th year of helping us make the Palm Springs International Film Festival the world-renowned event that it is.”
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.
“Even with the Festival at five area venues, transportation is often an issue for seniors on fixed incomes, many of whom cannot drive,” said Catharine Reed, Program Director 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 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival runs January 2–12, 2015, welcoming about 135,000 attendees and screening more than 192 feature films and documentaries from 65 countries. The Awards Gala, held on January 3, 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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