“An Exceptional Year:” 600 Volunteers Help Run Palm Springs International Film Festival

Carmela Karcher

“I’ve participated for probably about seven years,” Theater Operations Volunteer Dennis Pence said.

“17 years,” Lead Volunteer Fred Kilguss shared.

“This is my first year volunteering and what I signed up for is to work at the theaters,” Theater Operations Carol Loader explained.

Whether it’s their first year or their 17th, it’s the over 600 hardworking volunteers who are the real stars of the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

“You get to meet so many people, not just your fellow volunteers, but the patrons that are coming in and out of the movies and you get a chance to sometimes visit with them when they remark if the movie was excellent or maybe not so excellent,” Pence continued. “You have a lot of interaction doing theater ops.”

From theater operations to the ballot team to guest services, the festival depends on this group for its success year after year.

And hundreds of them are from right here in the valley.

“When we moved to Palm Springs 20 years ago, we knew about the International Film Festival,” Kilguss said. “It took us two years until we got around to volunteering and we’ve been doing it ever since.”

But some volunteers aren’t local.

“I’m a Canadian Snowbird so I’m a visitor to the city and I’m trying to be more involved, to be more part of the community and I thought this was a good way to do it,” Loader shared. “I love film, I believe in competition too, so it’s kind of exciting to see everybody really interested in seeing how the ratings work out and so forth.”

But when the show’s all over, the festival has a lasting impression regardless of where you’re from.

“My favorite memory so far was on the red carpet,” Loader continued. “Seeing actually some of the stars come over and engage with the fans, it was really nice.”

“I always get a kick out of the reaction of the patrons as they come out of a movie,” Pence said.

“My partner 12 years ago escorted Carey Mulligan, she was a presenter and an unknown young woman,” Kilguss explained. “Here she was last week getting a major award. You kind of feel like you grew up with her.”

If you volunteer, you also get a movie voucher each shift.

So if you’re interested in volunteering for next year’s film festival, click here to learn more.

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