PALM SPRINGS — The eighth Nortel Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival kicked into high gear Saturday night with a festive black-tie gala that honored five film artists and was attended by showbiz celebs, including Congressman Sonny Bono, former Palm Springs mayor and co-founder of the festival.

Lauren Bacall, who debuted in 1944′s “To Have and Have Not” and is currently on screens in “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and “My Fellow Americans,” received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Thanking the fest and Greg-ory Peck, who presented her with the nod after a clips screening, Bacall said, “I had no idea I was in so many movies….Hopefully it’s not the end; I’m hoping there will be better parts, or a part, in the future.”

Helmer tribute

Canadian director Norman Jewison, a three-time Oscar nominee for “In the Heat of the Night,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Moonstruck,” was honored with the Director’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Presenter Alan Arkin, who made his debut in Jewison’s “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!,” paid tribute to the director’s “passion for storytelling, insistence on invention and joy at the creative process of filmmaking.”

Composer Bill Conti received the Frederick Loewe Achievement Award from director John G. Avildsen. Sitting at the piano, Conti demonstrated how he worked on the title song of the Oscar-winning “Rocky,” under changing in-structions from Avildsen. Musical director for the Oscar telecast for the last decade, Conti won an Academy Award for “The Right Stuff.”

Richard Dreyfuss received the Charles A. Crain Desert Palm Achievement Award for his body of work, including such pics as “Jaws,” “American Graffiti,” “The Goodbye Girl” and “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Accepting his laurel from Holly Hunter, Dreyfuss revealed that he had always been disturbed by the question, “Is the work I’m doing going to be remembered?” He called the award an affirmation that as an artist he has made a “distinctive differ-ence.”

Coif-meister

Veteran hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff, reportedly the first craftsman in his field to receive an onscreen credit, was also honored. Clips introduced by TV star Stefanie Powers showed the hair designs that Guilaroff designed for stars including Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.

Honorary chair Donald O’Connor was the emcee. Festival runs through Jan. 24.

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