Palm Springs Film Festival Directors find time for camaraderie, reflection at Sunnylands

Friday, January 8, 2016

Helen Du Toit, interim festival director, makes a point during one of the directors’ roundtables.


Friday, January 8, 2016 — Just days after Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, and other movie starts walked the red carpet at the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s awards show, stars of a different sort – several of the filmmakers themselves – came to Sunnylands Center & Gardens for a pair of roundtables that have become one of the festival’s signature events.

“This is my favorite day,” said interim festival director Helen Du Toit, as directors arrived at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage for discussions centered on reviewing one another’s work, comparing notes on the entertainment industry, and sharing experiences in the art of filmmaking. It was the sixth year in a row that Sunnylands has hosted the roundtables, one for directors of fictional films and another for documentaries.

At a dinner banquet, Du Toit said the filmmaker retreats live up to the diplomatic ideals of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, who often hosted social events to foster a greater understanding among people of different nations. Of the 18 directors who attended the narrative retreat, only two hailed from the same country, Du Toit said.

“It’s just amazing to be in the same environment as other filmmakers,” said Raf Reyntjens of Belgium, adding that the creative work of directors is often conducted alone. “It’s good to meet each other in a protected environment.”

Indian filmmaker Leena Yadav summed up her experience this way: “Great food, great conversation and the most beautiful ambience.”