Palm Springs was responsible this year for screening 55 foreign films (a large majority of those being Oscar submissions); this is up from the 48 in last year's competition. This abundance of foreign fare on American shores is important when it comes to the Oscars since the category for best foreign film is small, with a miniscule five possible nominees, and Variety states that Palm Springs Film Festival is the only venue which screens a large number of foreign language film nominee hopefuls.
This year, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth won the Fipresci award (International Federation of Film Critics) for best foreign language film of the year. Pan's Labyrinth is definitely in the top running for an Oscar nod with incredible reviews from film's top critics. Does Labyrinth's critical acclaim and del Toro's new Fipresci honor guarantee his film a spot among the eventual five Oscar nominees? We can't tell for sure (though the Globes winner, Letters from Iwo Jima, does not qualify, nor does Mel Gibson's Apocalypto), but it's highly likely we'll see him there making the odds even smaller for the remaining slew of films fighting over those other four slots.