Franco Zeffirelli's Callas Forever will receive its North American premiere when it opens the 14th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan 9, 2003. The director, a longtime friend of the legendary opera singer, and lead actors Fanny Ardant and Jeremy Irons are expected to attend. The picture takes a fictitious look at the last days of Callas' life as she is lured into an ill-advised comeback by an impresario (Irons).

"International in scope and subject matter, it's an absorbing, fascinating and highly cinematic story of a well-known, beloved individual in a "what-if situation," the festival's new executive director Mitch Levine said. Callas Forever also stars Joan Plowright and is in English, French and Italian, with English subtitles. The film, which has yet to score a US distribution deal, is sold by Capitol Films.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival runs from Jan 9-20, 2003.