As well as the obvious professional coup, there’s also a practical bonus to David Ansen’s appointment as lead programmer for the Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival.

“It’s a wonderful fit as I happen to have had a condo in Palm Springs for about 11 years, so it’s giving me a good excuse to use it,” says Ansen, who was plucked for the position after spending five years as artistic director of the Los Angeles Film Festival and nearly 30 as a film critic for Newsweek.

In addition to employing a host of studio connections and contacts to make the fest come alive with vibrant, cutting-edge content, “once it was announced that I was working for Palm Springs I started to get calls from people offering some very interesting stuff,” he says. Ansen’s keen critical appreciation for big screen fare has also helped shape the fest.

“It’s the same but it’s also different,” he says of the transition from critic to programmer. “I am still looking at the movies with the same eye that I am as a critic, but you’re taking other factors into consideration. You can’t just program an entire festival to your taste, it’s much more a team sport. You’re considering the whole balance of the whole program, you’re thinking about your audience and trying to get a nice mix of the high and the low, high in the sense of real art film, like this year’s ‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,’ and a low movie would be a really great genre movie, a great horror film or a great comedy.”

With such a plenitude of films screening at this year’s fest, not even Ansen has seen them all and that, for him, is all part of the fun.

“As a programmer for me one of the great joys of a film festival is getting to meet all these filmmakers and watching them unveil their movies before a live audience,” he says. “They get to meet each other and hang out and form friendships and go see each other’s movies. There’s a great spirit at a film festival which is very different from what you experience as a critic which is much more solitary. There’s a kind of instant gratification when you’ve found a movie and unveil it to an audience that responds favorably. You’re sort of a midwife.”