Winners for 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festivals announced
Text and photos by Oliver Carnay
26th ANNUAL PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FESTIVAL WINNERS
Selma Receives Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature;
Keep On Keepin’ On Receives Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Doc Feature;
Leviathan Receives FIPRESCI Prize;
Haluk Bilginer and Anne Dorval Receive FIPRESCI Acting Prizes;
No One’s Child Receives New Voices/New Visions Award;
Flowers Receives Cine Latino Award;
Walking Under Water Receives The John Schlesinger Award
Corn Island Receives The HP Bridging The Borders Awards
Palm Springs, CA (January 11, 2015) - Setting the stage for the year’s film festival circuit, the 26th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) announced this year’s juried award winners at a luncheon at Spencer’s Restaurant on Saturday, January 10, 2015. The Festival, held from January 2-12, 2015, screened 196 films from 65 countries, including 51 of the 83 foreign language entries for this year’s Academy Awards®. Audience Award winners will be announced on Sunday, January 11.
“This year's Festival has been a huge success on all fronts, with consistently packed theaters, terrific audience response to the lineup of films and special programs and record filmmaker and industry attendance,” said Festival Director Darryl Macdonald. “I'm especially pleased that our Another Europe showcase and Cine Latino program received such a warm response from audiences and critics alike. I'm equally delighted with the juries' award choices, though given the outstanding overall quality of the films on view at this year's event; I wish we could present awards to each and every one of them.”
“Eastern European filmmakers — both emerging and established — have utterly dominated our juried awards this year: first time feature director Vuk Rsumovic from Serbia takes the New Visions New Voices prize for No One’s Child, the Bridging the Borders award goes to Georgian director George Ovashvili’s Corn Island plus a special jury prize to Kosovo’s Three Windows and a Hanging directed by Isa Qosja, and the Schlesinger award goes to Polish director Eliza Kubarska for her debut documentary Walking Under Water. The power of stories from this region is palpable and infectious” said Artistic Director Helen du Toit.
This year’s Festival attendees selected Selma (United Kingdom) directed by Ava DuVernay the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Selected as this year’s Opening Night film, Selma is a story of a movement. The nuanced and human view of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leaves one feeling deeply inspired by the many devoted individuals whose combined commitment and sacrifices changed the course of history.
“This year’s voting echoed the awards momentum building around Oscar contenders Still Alice and Selma," said Festival Director Darryl Macdonald. “The Awards Buzz section proved to be extremely popular once again, with Damián Szifron’s Wild Tales scoring the highest amongst those on the Foreign Language Oscar shortlist. Our audiences were also entranced by New Zealand Director James Napier Robertson’s The Dark Horse,” said Artistic Director Helen du Toit.
The runner-up narrative films were The Dark Horse (New Zealand) and Still Alice (USA). Popular narrative selections in alphabetical order included: 5 To 7 (USA), Accused (Netherlands), Behavior (Cuba), Margarita, with a Straw (India), Sold (USA), Tangerines (Estonia), The Nightingale (China), The Search (France), Wild Tales (Argentina).
Keep On Keepin’ On (USA) directed by Alan Hicks received the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. A deeply moving documentary that celebrates the great jazz trumpeter Clark Terry and blind jazz piano prodigy Justin Kauflin’s close relationship.
The runner-up documentary film was The Salt of the Earth (France). Popular documentary selections in alphabetical order included: Back on Board: Greg Louganis (USA), Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey (USA), How I Got Over (USA), Limited Partnership (USA), The Breach (USA).
The winner and runner-ups were picked on the basis of over 70,000 ballots cast by audience members during the Festival. Both winners received the John Kennedy Statue (“The Entertainer”) specially designed for the Festival.
A special jury of international film critics reviewed 51 of the 83 official Foreign Language submissions to the Academy Awards® screened at this year’s Festival to award the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. The jury selected the Oscar shortlisted Leviathan (Russia), directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Michael Oleszczyk (film critic and scholar) said, “At once timely and timeless, this film manages to comment on contemporary issues in a way that is both artistically stunning and deeply humane.”
In a statement, Director Andrey Zvyagintsev said, “We are thrilled and very proud to receive this honor from the Palm Springs Film Festival jurors. Our film attempts to portray a universal truth while staying close to its Russian roots; it is deeply gratifying to feel that audiences in the US respond to this story and the spirit in which it was told.”
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign Language Film went to Haluk Bilginer from Winter Sleep (Turkey), directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Fest juror Ernesto Diezmartínez Guzman (columnist and author) said, “This actor achieves a superb performance through dialogue, and is even more impressive when he’s silent, planning his next lethal response.”
Anne Dorval from Mommy (Canada), directed by Xavier Dolan, received the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign Language Film. Ella Taylor (film critic) said, “As the somewhat unhinged mother of a thoroughly unhinged son, Anne Dorval appears in almost every frame of Xavier Dolan’s Mommy. The jury recognizes this performance for the sheer expressive range of her transition from “crazy mom” to “crazy wise mom”, forced to make an impossible decision for everyone’s good."
The 2015 FIPRESCI jury members were Ella Taylor (film critic), Michael Oleszczyk (film critic and scholar) and Ernesto Diezmartínez Guzman (columnist and author).
NEW VOICES/NEW VISIONS AWARD
The New Voices/New Visions jury selected No One’s Child (Serbia), directed by Vuk Ršumovic. The film is tale about the desire to be loved and to belong is told from the perspective of a feral boy confronting civilization for the first time. The New Voices/New Visions competition included 10 new international talents making their feature film debut at the Festival, with the additional criteria that the films selected are currently without U.S. distribution. The winner received a sculpture designed by famed glass artist Dale Chihuly and a $60,000 Panavision camera rental package.
The jury issued the following statement, “We are deeply impressed by this compelling, multilayered and assured first feature film by a writer-director from Serbia. A child actor (in an astonishing performance by Denis Muric) undergoes an extraordinary transformation in this personal, intimate tale set in a time of historical turmoil. Carefully considered yet unexpected choices and bold direction result in a film that is both immediate and immersive, and the jury eagerly look forward to more work from this exciting new talent.”
The jury presented a special mention to Fidelio, Alice’s Journey (France), directed by Lucie Borleteau. The jury stated, “We were excited to see a strong, distinctive and honest portrayal of a female protagonist in a role which pushes the envelope on modern romance and handles female sexuality with a refreshing lack of inhibition. The director and co-writer deliver a daring, nuanced debut which uses humor to offset the darkness of this exquisitely shot story about loneliness and life at sea.” The winner also received a $60,000 Panavision camera rental package.
The films were juried by Daniel Hammond (Co-founder and CEO), Broad Green Pictures), Danielle Digiacomo (Director of Acquisitions, The Orchard) and Eric Doctorow (CEO & Founder Random Media).
CINE LATINO AWARD
The Cine Latino Award, was presented to Flowers (Spain), directed by Jon Garaño and José Mari Goenaga. The jury issued the following statement, “For its melancholy and poignant multilevel exploration of romance and remembrance the jury presents the 2015 Cine Latino Award to the Basque film Flowers (Loreak).”
Special Mention went to Not All Is Vigil (Spain/Colombia), directed by Hermes Paralluelo. The jury stated, “For its sensitive portrayal of the relationship of two spirited octogenarians as they confront an inevitable chapter of their lives the jury would like to present a special mention to the film Not All Is Vigil.”
In a statement, Directors Jon Garaño and José Mari Goenaga said, “Hi thank you very much for the award, a really nice and great surprise for us. We have had three amazing days in Palm Springs. For us it has been a really great experience and we would like to thank the festival, thanks to everyone who made it possible for us to be there. For us this award has been very important because we feel that it is a great opportunity to make our language be known in other countries and other places so thank you very much.”
The jury for the Cine Latino Award included Josep Parera (Entertainment Editor – La Opinión) Nacho Carballo (Festival Director, Gijón International Film Festival, Spain) and Tom Davia (Founder & Managing Partner of Cinemaven Media). The Cine Latino Award is sponsored by the Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG) and the University of Guadalajara Foundation/USA. The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize.
THE JOHN SCHLESINGER AWARD
Walking Under Water (Poland), directed by Eliza Kubarska, received The John Schlesinger Award, which is presented to a first-time documentary filmmaker. The film is the real-life adventure story of Alexan, a compressor diver and member of the Badjao tribe of ocean nomads who live on the edge of the Sulu and Celebes Seas in Borneo. Getting older, Alexan wishes to pass on his skills and wisdom to 10-year-old Sari. But compression diving is dangerous and not a stable source of income. Will Sari follow in Alexan’s footsteps or will he, instead, turn to the encroaching tourist industry for employment? Will Alexan be the last of the Badjao divers? Polish alpinist and adventure filmmaker Eliza Kubarska travelled to Borneo as a climber and, finding Alexan, left as a diver herself. Sumptuously photographed, both above ground and under water, by Piotr Rosolowski, Walking Under Water depicts not a mythical place, but certainly, even in its extremes, a magical one.
The jury issued the following statement, “Walking Under Water is a masterful and lush meditation of an unknown world that reveals a strong humanity while pushing the boundaries of filmmaking. Walking Under Water is a visually and sonically elegant work that never falters – an extraordinary film.”
The films were judged by Gaylene Preston (filmmaker – Mr. Wrong, Ruby and Rata), Larry Weinstein (filmmaker, Making Overtures, Inside Hannah’s Suitcase) and Greg Barker (filmmaker, We Are the Giant, Manhunt).
THE HP BRIDGING THE BORDERS AWARD
Corn Island (Georgia), directed by George Ovashvili, received the HP Bridging the Borders Award presented by Cinema Without Borders and Hewlett Packard, which honors the film that is most successful in exemplifying art that promotes bringing the people of our world closer together. The prize includes an HP ZBook 15, valued at $3,000.
The Cinema Without Borders Special Jury Award went to Three Windows and a Hanging (Kosovo) directed by Isa Qosja. The winner received a certificate for an upcoming Method Acting Intensive Workshop provided by The Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute in West Hollywood, CA, valued at $2,000.
In a statement, Director George Ovashvili said, “Thank you very much for this amazing news. Bridging the Borders – sounds very exciting. I think this is the main idea of the art, generally, to connect the people, connect the hearts, and bring all of us together. I would like to thank all of you – the organizers of Palm Springs Film Festival, which is really the people’s festival, which deserves this award “Bridging the Borders between the people”. Thanks to the organization who gives this very important award, the juries, the best audience, I meet in Palm Springs, ever.”
The Best of the Fest screenings will take place on Monday, January 12. For a complete list of screenings visit www.psfilmfest.org.
The complete list of award winners are:
Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
Selma (United Kingdom), directed by Ava DuVernay
Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
Keep On Keepin’ On (USA), directed by Alan Hicks
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Leviathan (Russia), directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign Language Film
Haluk Bilginer from Winter Sleep (Turkey), directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign Language Film
Anne Dorval from Mommy (Canada), directed by Xavier Dolan
New Voices/New Visions Award
No One’s Child (Serbia), directed by Vuk Ršumovic - Winner
Fidelio, Alice’s Journey (France), directed by Lucie Borleteau – Special Mention
Cine Latino Award
Flowers (Spain), directed by Jon Garaño and José Mari Goenaga – Winner
Not All Is Vigil (Spain/ Colombia), directed by Hermes Paralluelo – Special Mention
The John Schlesinger Award
Walking Under Water (Poland), directed by Eliza Kubarska – Winner
HP Bridging the Borders Award
Corn Island (Georgia), directed by George Ovashvili – Winner
Three Windows and a Hanging (Kosovo), directed by Isa Qosja – Special Jury Award
About The Palm Springs International Film Festival
The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 135,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Black Tie Awards Gala, honoring the best achievements of the filmic year by a celebrated list of talents who, in recent years, have included Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, David O. Russell, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet.
The Awards Gala of the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival is presented by Cartier and sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and Entertainment Tonight. The City of Palm Springs is the Title Sponsor of the Film Festival. Presenting Sponsors are Wells Fargo, The Desert Sun and Spencer’s. Major sponsors are Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Wessman Development, Bank of America, Wintec, Regal Entertainment Group, Ignition Creative, Desert Regional Medical Center, Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, Windermere Real Estate, Eisenhower Medical Center, Guthy-Renker, Integrated Wealth Management, VisitGreaterPalmSprings.com, Ocean Properties, Chihuly and Telefilm Canada.
For more information, please go to www.psfilmfest.org