By Heidi Simmons

There is a great deal of anticipation in reading a book and then seeing the adaptation on the big screen. 

There is a level of intimacy we have with a book.  As a reader, images unfold in our head.  An author may create a world, but the reader gets to personally shape and interpret that world. 

This inherently becomes problematic for filmmakers when adapting a book into a movie.  Sometimes filmmakers get the adaptation right, and sometimes you wonder if they even read the book.   


Books are such a private experience, while watching a movie is a public one.  Without a doubt, there are significant challenges turning several hundred pages into a satisfying, ninety-minute movie.

In just the last few years, the Palm Springs International Film Festival added a “Book to Screen” component reaching out to authors, filmmakers and Hollywood industry professionals to share the process of adapting a book for the big screen. 

Originally founded by locals Susan Rosser and Barbara Keller, readers and film fans got the best of both worlds as they delighted in several days of conversations and panel discussions about the power of books and the movies they became.

This year the presentation has changed, but it remains an exciting event.  There are four “Book to Screen” film events followed by a discussion.  All are held at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs.

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissel – Nonfiction (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages)

The book divulges the true events around the making of an independent film called “The Room,” which cost $6,000,000 to produce.  The movie was written, produced, directed and starred a mysterious wealthy social misfit named Tommy Wiseau.  The movie made a disastrous debut earning only $1,800 at the box office.   

It closed after two weeks, but a decade later, “The Room” became an international cult phenomenon. 

Author Greg Sestero, screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber will discuss how they adapted the true story about the genesis of one of the worst films ever into one of the most poignant and hilarious comedies of 2017.

The film is directed by James Franco who also plays the title role.  The cast includes Dave Franco and Seth Rogen.  January 5, 3:45pm.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazonby David Grann –

Nonfiction  (Vintage Books, 400 pages)

In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of the fabled civilization El Dorado.  When he came across an artifact he believed proved his theory, he returned time and again throughout his life, until on his last trip, he disappeared and was never seen or heard from again.

This is an epic adventure and beautiful film that recounts the true story of a man who risks everything in hopes of discovering a legendary lost city.

Writer, director James Gray will talk about bringing the book to the screen.  The cast includes Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller.  January 6, 3:30pm

Last Flag Flying: A Novelby Darryl Ponicsan – Fiction (Skyhorse Publishing, 228 pages)

Darryl Ponicsan’s debut novel “The Last Detail” catapulted him to fame when it was first published. The story of two career sailors assigned to escort a young seaman from Norfolk to the naval prison in Portsmouth, New Hampshire — and of the mayhem that ensues — was made into an award-winning movie starring Jack Nicholson. 

Set thirty-four years after the events of The Last Detail, the film brings together the same beloved characters ― Billy Bad-Ass Buddusky, Mule Mulhall, and Meadows ― to reprise the same journey, but under different circumstances. The story reunites the old characters for a whole new adventure.

Writers Richard Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan will talk about this sequel.

The film is directed by David Linklater and stars Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishbourne and Steve Carell.  January 9, 12:45pm.

Call Me by Your Name:  Novel” by André Aciman -– Fiction (Picador, 256 pages)

A complicated love story set in the Italian countryside in 1983 is centered around the sexual awaking of 17-year-old boy who loses his virginity to his summertime girlfriend, but falls in love with an older man.

The adaptation is written by three-time Academy Award Nominee James Ivory and is directed by Luca Guadagnino.  The film stars Armie Hammer, and PSIFF Rising Star Award recipient, Timothée Chalamet.  January 12, 3:30pm.

The Books to Screen is one of the beloved PSIFF events.  To be able to hear authors and filmmaker discuss the creative process is a great opportunity and loads of fun. 

Be sure to check the schedule as it is subject to change.  For tickets and more information go to or call 800-898-PALM.