Lupita Nyong’o 2014 at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala
Setting the stage for the year’s film festival circuit, the 25th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) announced this year’s juried award winners at a luncheon at Spencer’s Restaurant on Saturday, January 11, 2014. The Festival, held from January 3-13, 2014, screened 191 films from 60 countries, including 46 of the 76 foreign language entries for this year’s Academy Awards®. Audience Award winners will be announced on Sunday, January 12.
“It’s been a tremendous 25th anniversary year for the Festival, capped by record numbers of both filmgoers and filmmakers attending,” said Festival Director Darryl Macdonald. “But the real standout has been the overall excellence of the films in this year’s Festival lineup, proving that the phenomenally strong year we’ve witnessed in Hollywood filmmaking has been more than matched by the strong upswing in quality filmmaking worldwide. I wish we could provide awards to all of the filmmakers at this year’s event – their work certainly merits it.”
A special jury of international film critics reviewed 46 of the 76 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 The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), directed by Felix van Groeningen. Fest juror Karsten Kastelan (The Hollywood Reporter) said “A country song of a film – with all the love, pain, tragedy, and heartache life can throw at you. A testament to the human spirit and how we can endure almost anything as long as there is even a sliver of hope or faith. Set in the small country of Belgium, this is a very personal story mirroring the ultimate decline of the American dream.”
In a statement, Director Felix van Groeningen said, “I am very happy with this award. I am thankful for the jury to award our film and I am especially honoured because it was amongst so many great films. The Broken Circle Breakdown is touching people’s hearts and minds and during the Q&A’s I could also really feel the debate it is evoking, which is very rewarding. Thank you Palm Springs International Film Festival!”
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign Language Film went to Mads Mikkelsen from The Hunt (Denmark) directed by Thomas Vinterberg, which is on the Oscar shortlist. Fest juror Gyorgy Karpati (Magyar Nemzet) said, “Mads Mikkelsen’s powerful yet minimalist performance in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, as a school teacher wrongly cast out by his community, brings exceptional depth and dimension to bear on an enigmatic figure. The actor finds the humanity, and the contradictions, in his character, bringing a sense of balance and honesty to a tale riddled with injustice and lies.”
Bérénice Bejo from The Past (Iran), directed by Asghar Farhadi, received the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign Language Film. Fest juror Steven Rea (Philadelphia Inquirer) said, “Bérénice Bejo’s portrait of a woman in profound transition, struggling to close the door on one relationship, trying to keep the other open, offers a symphony of emotions: regret, longing, love, hurt, need. Her character may waver, but Bejo’s performance stays straight and true.”
The 2014 FIPRESCI jury members were Karsten Kastelan (The Hollywood Reporter), Gyorgy Karpati (Magyar Nemzet, Hungary) and Steven Rea (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
NEW VOICES/NEW VISIONS AWARD
The New Voices/New Visions selected Medeas (USA) directed by Andrea Pallaoro. The film is an archetypal tale of adultery, rendered with exquisite strokes in this slow burning rural psychodrama, the first feature from an Italian-born filmmaker working in the US. The New Voices/New Visions competition included 12 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, “With a singular, carefully controlled vision and luminous 35 mm cinematography, Andrea Pallaoro imbues a heartbreaking domestic story with an iconic, mythical feel. The jury were deeply impressed by the skill with which this first time director deftly wove together a quiet, elegantly paced visual poem, yet still had us on the edge of our seats are we watched the drama unfold. This stunningly composed, unique piece made a strong, lasting impact, and we are eager to see what this visionary filmmaker will do next.”
In a statement, Director Andrea Pallaoro said, “I want to express my deep gratitude to the Palm Springs International Film Festival for their extraordinary support, and to this Jury for honoring Medeas with this award. It is particularly exciting for me to see this film be recognized by a team of distributors. In the last decades films like Medeas have had a very difficult time competing with commercially driven entertainment films. It gives me faith that now more people will see the film in the US and abroad. But most of all, I am so proud for it to be honored here, in Southern California, a place I feel the most deeply connected to, the film’s setting, and its inspiration.”
The jury presented a special mention to Left Foot Right Foot (Switzerland), directed by Germinal Roaux. The jury stated, “For capturing the awkward transition from youth to adulthood with beautiful black and white photography, compelling characterization and haunting moments that resonated long after viewing. The jury agreed that Germinal Roaux is an exciting new director to watch.” The winner also received a $60,000 Panavision camera rental package.
The films were juried by Linzee Troubh (Head of Sales, Cinetic Media), James Shapiro (Chief Operating Officer, Drafthouse Films) and Ed Arentz (Managing Director, Music Box Films).
CINE LATINO AWARD
The Cine Latino Award, was presented to two films Heli (Mexico), directed by Amat Escalante and Living is Easy With Eyes Closed (Spain) directed by David Trueba. The jury issued the following statement, “Due to the outstanding quality of this year’s selection, the jury has opted to bestow Ex Aequo the Cine Latino Award to Amat Escalante’s Heli and David Trueba’s Living is Easy with Eyes Closed for their equally accomplished execution in such contrasting genres. While Heli gave an incisive and searing portrayal of the drug violence in Mexico and its impact on the local population, Living is Easy with Eyes Closed speaks of the power of dreams and ideals against the backdrop of an oppressive regime.”
In a statement, Director Amat Escalante said, “I am very honored and grateful to the jury and to the Palm Springs International Film Festival for giving Heli this award among the many amazing Latin American and Spanish films screened this year. It was a pleasure for me to attend and be able to see some of these films at all the sold out cinemas. I wish I could be there in person now to give hugs to all of you. Thank you.”
Special Mention went to Gloria (Chile). The jury stated, “We have decided to award the Special Mention to Sebastian Lelio’s Gloria for capturing the universal themes of love, family and loneliness in a world class performance of Paulina Garcia.”
The jury for the Cine Latino Award included Anna Marie de la Fuente (Chief Latin America writer – Variety) Emilio Kauderer (music composer of Oscar winning The Secret of their Eyes) and Iván Trujillo Bolio (Director of the Guadalajara International Film Festival). The Cine Latino Award is sponsored by the Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG) and the University of Guadalajara Foundation/US. The winners will split the $7,500 cash prize. The Cine Latino program is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz.
THE JOHN SCHLESINGER AWARD
Finding Vivian Maier (USA), directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, received The John Schlesinger Award, which is presented to a first-time documentary filmmaker. The film is a compelling, eye-opening introduction to an anonymous and mysterious woman who recently found posthumous fame as a giant of 20th century photography. The jury stated, “We were moved and awed by the filmmakers’ dogged yet sensitive approach to a relentless and covert artist, as well as their honest inquiry into her mysterious life. The persistence of vision exemplified by the filmmakers, both in discovering Ms. Maier’s work and in the uncovering of her story, was an impressive feat for any filmmakers, let alone first time ones. We are honored to present the John Schlesinger Award to this talented filmmaking team.”
The winner receives the John Kennedy Statue (“The Entertainer”).
In a statement, the directors said, “We are honored and grateful to PSIFF and its wonderful audiences for embracing our film and embracing Vivian Maier. Thanks to all of you, more people will see the film and discover Vivian’s work. We’ve had a terrific time here in Palm Springs sharing it with you.”
The films were judged by Kirby Dick (Documentary film director – The Invisible War, This Film is Not Yet Rated, Outrage), Adam Del Deo (Netflix Original Documentary & Comedy Team; Documentary co-director – Every Little Step, So Goes the Nation) and Alexandra Johnes, (Documentary film producer – The Square, The House I Live In)
THE HP BRIDGING THE BORDERS AWARD
Walesa. Man of Hope (Poland), directed by Andrzej Wajda, 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 Plot for Peace (South Africa) directed by Carlos Agulló and Mandy Jacobson. 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.
Audience Award winners will be announced on Sunday, January 12. The Best of the Fest screenings will take place on Monday, January 13. 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
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), directed by Felix van Groeningen
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign Language Film
Mads Mikkelsen from The Hunt (Denmark), directed by Thomas Vinterberg
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign Language Film
Bérénice Bejo from The Past (Iran), directed by Asghar Farhadi
New Voices/New Visions Award
Medeas (USA), directed by Andrea Pallaoro – Winner
Left Foot Right Foot (Switzerland), directed by Germinal Roaux – Special Mention
Cine Latino Award
Heli (Mexico), directed by Amat Escalante and Living is Easy With Eyes Closed (Spain), directed by David Trueba – Winner
Gloria (Chile), directed by Sebastian Lelio – Special Mention
The John Schlesinger Award
Finding Vivian Maier (USA), directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel – Winner
HP Bridging the Borders Award
Walesa. Man of Hope (Poland), directed byAndrzej Wajda – Winner
Plot for Peace (South Africa), directed by Carlos Agulló and Mandy Jacobson – Special Jury Award