The 16th Annual Palm SpringsInternational Film Festival (PSIFF) will open on Jan 6 2005 with ThomasCarter's high school basketball drama Coach Carter starring Samuel L Jackson, and closes with the USpremiere of Charles Dance's feature directorial debut Ladies In Lavender, which stars Judie Dench and Maggie Smith.

Jackson will receive theCareer Achievement Award for Acting at the awards night gala on Jan 8. All inall 190 pictures from more than 65 countries comprising 14 world, 45 US and 20North American premieres will play at the festival, which runs from Jan 6-17.

Other international galascreenings include the world premiere of Raymond De Felita's comedy TheThing About My Folks starring PeterFalk, Paul Reiser and Olympia Dukakis; the North American premiere of AdolfoAristarain's Argentinian-Spanish co-production drama Roma; and Tom Hooper's South Africa-set political drama RedDust starring Hilary Swank.

PSIFF prides itself onprogramming many of the foreign language Academy Awards submissions and thisyear's Awards Buzz strand features 41 out of the 50 entries, including OliverHirschbiegel's Downfall(Germany), Erik Van Looy's The Alzheimer Case (Belgium), Metod Pevec's Beneath Her Window (Slovenia), and Zornitsa Sophia's Mila From Mars (Bulgaria).

The Awards Buzz categoryincludes documentary Oscar contenders such as Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's BornInto Brothels, Morgan Spurlock's SuperSize Me, Mark Wexler's Tell ThemWho You Are, Christian Bauer's TheRitchie Boys, and Stacy Peralta's RidingGiants.

Other world premieresinclude Barry Avrich's Lew Wasserman documentary The Last Mogul and Barra Grant's Life Of The Party in the special presentations section, as well asKevin Noland's romantic comedy Americano starring Joshua Jackson, Leonor Varela and Dennis Hopper, TommyStovall's thriller Hate Crime,and Sandra Nettelbeck's German romance Sergeant Pepper.

Elsewhere festival-goerswill have the chance to see Danny Boyle's fantasy caper Millions, Francois Ozon's romance 5 X 2, Il-gon Song's South Korean mystery Spider Forest, Sylvia Chang's Taiwanese romantic comedy 20:30:40, Anders Ronnow-Klarlund's Danish animated adventure Strings, and Matteo Garrone's Italian romance First Love.

Thirty-one films from LatinAmerica, Spain and Portugal will screen in the Festival's Cine Latinoprogramme, while the new Super-Charged Cinema category features late-nightgenre screenings.

"This year's line-up isespecially auspicious, featuring as it does a number of major premieres fromboth well-established auteurs and promising emerging filmmakers based inAmerica and abroad," the festival executive director's Darryl Macdonald said ina statement.

"The breadth and depth ofthe talent encompassed by the line-up is truly heartening, and we're especiallydelighted to have such a strong line-up of films from current cultural hotbedsof world cinema such as Argentina, Israel, China, Italy and Germany all ofwhom are undergoing a resurgence, of sorts, of their national cinemas."

Festival organisers willpresent two juried competitions this year. The New Voices/New Visions Awardwill honour one of 12 features from new international talents making theirfirst or second films, while the John Schlesinger Award for Outstanding FirstFeature or Documentary acknowledges the work of a first-time filmmaker whosenarrative or documentary feature plays at the festival.