"Putting on the Ritz" with the Joshua Tree International Film Festival
By Hilary Sloane
Does it get any better? We have Hollywood, the Palms Springs Film Festival, and the Joshua Tree National Park. Now we have our own International Film Festival.
The Morongo Basin, already known as a place that draws creative people, is exploding into a popular destination for artists. Whether it’s the space, the quiet beauty, the ease of lifestyle or one of those magical things that no-one can explain, Joshua Tree and the surrounding areas is having a notable impact on artists and the art they produce. And the artists are returning, bringing their own signature.
Stan Sagers, a local resident, said, “6 years ago nobody knew where Joshua Tree was, and now you hear about the Joshua Tree scene all the time through TV shows and news articles.”
One contributing factor is artist residency programs like the Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency (JTHAR), Harrison House Music and Arts Residency, BoxoProject, High Desert Test Sites and The Joshua Tree National Park Residency program. These programs bring artists to the desert, give them a place to stay for a period of time and offer them the space and freedom to work on their own art. Many artists are returning to visit, buy property, get married, and complete new projects.
James Berg and Fredrick Fulmer founders of JTHAR feel very connected to this movement. Many of the fifty artists participating in the residency over the last 8 years have returned.
“Joshua Tree has always been a beacon for artists, but it was more of a local secret for Los Angeles and West Coast artists,” said Berg. “Now it is becoming national and international.”