What You Need to Know About The Palm Springs International Film Festival

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The 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, sponsored by Bighorn, returns next month, and ET has everything you need to know about the event that kicks off awards season.

When is it taking place?: Jan. 1 - 11, with the awards gala happening on Jan. 2.

Who's hosting?: Former ET host Mary Hart is hosting the festival for the 13th time. The TV legend will be pulling double duty by hosting and interviewing the night's big winners backstage exclusively for ET. Interviews will air on ET Jan. 4.

Why is it important?: It's an early predictor for the Oscars and showcases Academy Award hopefuls. Past honorees such as Matthew McConaughey, Eddie Redmayne and Sean Penn are just some of those who went on to Oscar glory after getting kudos at PSIFF.

What is being screened?: There will be special presentations of Alejandro G. Inarritu's The Revenant, Jaco Van Dormael's The Brand New Testament and Gavin Hood's Eye in the Sky.

Who is being honored?: Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett will both be honored with the Desert Palm Achievement Award. Matt Damon will receive the Chairman's Award, Brie Larson will accept the Breakthrough Performance Award, Saoirse Ronan will take the International Star Award for actress while Michael Fassbender will be awarded the same distinction for actor, and Rooney Mara will be presented with the Spotlight Award.