Though the festival does feature American independent films, the focus from its inception was to shine a spotlight on international cinema. Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, described the festival as a good place to show foreign-language movies and heralded this festival's ability to spread good word-of-mouth for movies. The event is noted for screening most foreign Oscar nominees. In 2013, the festival screened 42 of the 71 movies that were submitted by countries around the world to the Oscars for that year's foreign language film prize. In the days before the festival's opening, several of the international filmmakers convene at Sunnylands, the Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage, to trade strategies on funding, producing and promoting their movies.
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