Cool Libations & Short Interludes: Palm Springs & The 2009 Shorts Fest


Palm Springs in the summer is a hot affair so sometimes the element is to keep it shorts. The Palm Springs Shorts Fest, the smaller sister to the annual film festival confab in January, is deftly positioned and very intrinsic in their program despite some logistics issues in terms of venue capacity and time frame admissions policies.

While seeing material became less intrinsic, two programs shown persuaded different inclinations of vision, which the fest is effective at highlighting.

“Sex & Lust”  offered a variety of persuasions with two distinctive films standing out both for their perspective and their honesty despite a definite difference in tone. The first: “Orange Peel” uses a mix of negative projected animation to paint the story of a girl in London who speaks of interesting ways of making money. The mix of 80s revelry, provocative persistance and literal images of metaphorical persuasion make it both stylish and inventive. The second: “Lost Paradise” is a tale of an illicit affair but with a sociological twist. While speculative in ways to the New Wave, the tenderness and sexual desire between this man and woman nakedly entwined is most elicited when, while petting her, the man removes a piece of paper hidden inside her panties, which he unrolls and read “Happy Birthday”. It is really subtle but undeniable. When they begin putting back on their clothes, you recognize from small details that they are in Israel. He puts back on his black outfit and you realize that he is Isreali and she is Palestinian. She smiles quietly and tells him she will go “first” as he sits in a chair, silently contemplating and watches her leave.


By comparison “Obsessions” as a program is more relegated with the psychological confines of the mind and its perspective of choice and desires plays tricks. The first one is a brief animation called “Reach” which while mirroring elements of Pixar, is exceptional at its execution in making a small robot who runs out of power a study in the concept of primitive logic. The second: “Down & Out” has Ricky Schroeder (of “NYPD: Blue” and “Silver Spoons” fame) playing a past his prime boxer who takes his desire to win to a destructive level. Comparisons to the young boy he played in 1979’s “The Champ” are inevitable but the haunted feeling allows you to disappear in the grief that could consume him despite a genre induced twist.


Parties are always inevitable to the productivity of the creative community because the paradox of the pitch and the dealmaking are always in flux. The thread of cocktails and mistaken glances always enhances the flow. Starting in the Stella Filmmaker’s Lounge at HQ at the Palm Springs Hilton, the pouring of ideas matches the smoothness of the draft. Hotel Zoso that night populates the first soiree with vodka, rose and pasta swirling within cozy booths. Dinks on Palm Canyon to follow nestled its liquor-infused wares with knowing glances as tales from visiting visual effects mavens set the standard and hard lemonade straightened the vision.

The great aspect in visiting this desert pinpoint where an essence of freedom presents itself is that, for the first time in recent memory, from a tourism and getaway standpoint, Palm Springs, as a city, is realizing some of the new boon business in play as the allure of Vegas drops in the minds of young people with the inclination of the casinos’ increasing desperation to attract customers in a continually sloping economy pushing said demo to pursue a new alternative.

Palm Springs, in comparison, is building their base quietly and appealing more to the customers in the know. Two properties seem to be leading this charge. One is the newly revamped “Riviera” which is retaking grasp of the heyday of its youth in 1959 where Sinatra and Martin hung at the pool and where Elvis chilled. The other is a new kid in the ACE Hotel & Swim Club which takes that thought of Hollywood chic without the cat eyes and brings it 21st Century.

ACE, located on East Palm Canyon right outside of town, revels in the community element and bungalow style of life it is creating. Hidden in plain view and deftly affordable, the ACE has been building by word of mouth and was packed for the three days visited. The key is interaction. Most hotels you would not open your door and chill with a cigar as the passersby peered in.


The room structure, especially pool facing, is quite intrinsic. The lush bed, down in every persuasion, glows especially when the lighting is keyed. At one point, late night, it can bathe in blood red as the fire burns outside. It was the element of cool…a W club vibe without the pretentiousness. Across the way, at the Commons, private parties are the key. Granted the interactions go late but that is part of the charm. And inside even with the music pumping outside, privacy and insulation keep things the way you want them.

The main pool great in the afternoon for sunbathing and chilling under the misters hums with male and female interaction, a nice relaxing spot from which to launch certain liasions. The group size hot tub in full view of the Short Bus (a new bar due to open soon) bristles into the late night. Pool time is 24 hours which is the way the young like it as one night swelled with dark swimming until 4:30 when the barely light started to peek from over the mountains.

For a quick bite within the ACE, King’s Highway intermingled in a building which used to be a 60s Dennys uses the art deco architecture and makes it visionary and affordable. During evenings, the place is packed to the gills bathing in practical lights and jazzy musical riffs that permeate its chasmlike structure. Lunch is a perfect time to escape the head and experience filling but not overdone excursions in taste. The fish tacos, simply prepared wrapped in corn tortillas in a zesty salsa verde sauce and zipped with a light cream sauce melts in the mouth while an accompanying side of fries raptured in garlic and dipped in a creamy aioli sauce is  light and delicious.

The Riviera’s “Circa 59” in terms of culinary is a different experience in vision. The architecture hidden within the heart of the ultra beautiful hotel speaks to its intent. The black and blood red chandeliers hidden among the texture of the leather chairs that disappear into a maze of mirrors is both gothic and sexy as the view out into the pool shows the jist of visual splendor cavorting in the pool and the angle of who might sit at the table next or behind you is shrouded. Like ACE, this is one of the places that young Hollywood finds to escape and hang low. Word of mouth permeates the buzz.

The culinary superlatives at 59 are enhanced by a knowledgable staff. Starting with a creamy lobster bisque augmented by a tangy piece of crustacean meat and paired by a Cable Bay Savignon Blanc from New Zealand tinged with a bit of citrus,  a wedged lettuce draped in a lucid jalapeno dressing and topped with honey roasted slices of bacon (seen in the photo above) spelled simply divine. The main course, seared yellowfin tuna ensconced in a Moroccan spice rub and bathed in a sea of rich and vivacious risotto, was accompanied with gusto by a 2009 Hangtime Pinot Noir out of Napa before a rich, hot-to-the-tongue lava cake simmered the embers.

Simmering visions integrate the essence of golf, which is considered a staple of Palm Springs with the intrinsic element of the green in the desert. Golf is slowly learning to angle to the younger vision with celebs like Justin Timberlake leading the way. The edge and privacy of doing meetings and deals in this setting ensures an ability of anonymity, controlled access and facetime.

The Tahquitz Creek Resort Golf Course, off of Dinah Shore Drive, uses the expansiveness of the desert to paint its progression with simple yet, at times, competitive strokes. The immenseness of the nearby mountains in contradiction to the stark landscape gives pause. In terms of complexity, Hole 7 with its consecutive and strategic water jumps allows for calculation while its predecessor at 6 revels with a grand vista which shows the immenseness of the valley. Hole 12 jars in tandem with a rock garden challenging the slice while 15 requires precise criss-cross hits in a sea of obstructed persuasions. The heat burns the vision but the focus is right.

Palm Springs continues to examine its evolving or perhaps continuing transcendence for a new generation. With new ventures like the laid back and cool ACE, the reverberation of the resurrected Riviera with its Circa 59 gothic silkiness and artistic soirees like Shorts Fest, the allure to new Hollywood from the Springs will continue to take shape as the lust of Vegas subsides. Hotness has a secret in the desert 99 miles removed. Spread the word.

Posted on July 3, 2009, in Film Festival Coverage and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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