Zeffirelli's 'Callas' to bow, Schlesinger prize announced

Michael Feinstein pic “The Great American Songbook” will close the 14th annual Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival on Jan. 19.

Feinstein will perform following the screening of the film, which he co-produced. The evening will be emceed by writer-comedian Bruce Vilanch. Carol Channing and Jerry Herman will also appear onstage as special guests.

Fest, which runs Jan. 9-20, will open with Franco Zeffirelli’s “Callas Forever,” starring Jeremy Irons and Fanny Ardant, marking its North American premiere.

The newly established John Schlesinger filmmaker prize for outstanding debut feature will also be announced Jan. 19. Award will be presented by director Bryan Singer.

Schlesinger will be awarded a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Fame at noon on Jan. 10, during the festival. Guest speakers expected to attend include Brenda Vaccaro, Michael York, Steve Zaillian, Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers and Franco Zeffirelli.

“I remember how important it was to me as a young filmmaker when my first film, a documentary entitled ‘Terminus,’ won the Berlin Film Festival Award,” Schlesinger said. “How important that was in launching my career. The best of luck to whoever is chosen for this award.”

“Songbook,” hosted by performer- musicologist Feinstein and produced and directed by Andrew J. Kuehn, uses rare and never-before-seen footage from documentaries and feature films to trace the evolution of the American popular song over the last 150 years.

The Fipresci jurors are Bojidar Manov (Bulgaria), who will serve as president, Susana Schild (Brazil), Barbara Lorey (for Germany, France and Switzerland), Robert Koehler (U.S.) and Bruce Kirkland (Canada).

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