Australia’s The Sapphires directed by Wayne Blair was named best narrative feature today as the 24th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival winds down. The movie that also screened in Cannes last year is based on the real-life story of an all-female Aboriginal singing group that transitioned from folk to soul with unanticipated success in the 1960s. Best documentary feature was Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, directed by Ramona Diaz. It’s about the rock band Journey’s search for a replacement lead singer after Steve Perry quit. The fest which began January 3 and officially concludes tomorrow screened 182 films from 68 countries, including 42 of the 71 foreign language entries for this year’s Academy Awards. A complete list of winners follows: READ MORE »
Even as Oscar nomination polls were closing Friday afternoon, the awards season action was already shifting to the Southern California desert as the 10-day Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off, not only with its highly publicized Saturday night gala where enormous statuettes are handed out to Oscar hopefuls looking for a boost in the race, but also as a genuinely impressive public showcase for world cinema.
42 of the 71 official Oscar foreign entries are on display at the Fest (which runs through January 13) including 8 of the 9 finalists which made the shortlist. Many of those filmmakers nervously awaiting results, of which of the 9 become the 5 nominees, were at the fest all weekend, even as a select group of about 30 high-profile Academy members (including Meryl Streep, who told me last year she had a great time on this uber committee) in New York and Los Angeles were viewing the finalists and making their choices (to be announced with other Oscar nominees on Thursday morning).
A Canadian comedy about a prolific sperm donor, and a U.S. documentary about the history of women jazz musicians, were among the top award winners today at the 23rd Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. Sponsored by the city of Palm Springs, this is one of North America’s biggest film festival attracting about 130,000 people each year to consider features and documentaries from around the world. “This year’s line up encompassed a particularly satisfying blend of challenging but highly compelling works, more broadly accessible crowd pleasers and debut films distinguished by their distinctive storytelling craft and technical prowess,” Festival Director Darryl Macdonald said.
Here are this year’s winners:
Final Oscar nomination ballots are due Friday and the season is igniting with contenders rolling from one event to the next — no voter left unturned. Capping a furious week of campaigning and leading into another one, the Palm Springs International Film Festival staged their annual awards gala Saturday night at the cavernous Palm Springs Convention Center and drew a starry group of contenders who tried out their speeches on a ritzy crowd who obviously lives for this show each year. That it falls right in the middle of Oscar voting is totally by design and the reason the fest can draw its A-list of talent that included photog magnets George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Michelle Williams and Charlize Theron, among others. When Pitt and supportive significant other Angelina Jolie came to the Sony table in the middle of the room, there was a tidal wave of locals with iPhones who descended on them, snapping away and pushing me, among others aside. (I actually ran smack into Jolie, who told me “this is wild. I’m not sure what to make of it. I think I need a glass of wine just to soak it all in.”) I guess the crowd figured they were entitled to become paparazzi for a night since many of them paid $1500 to be there; the event raised $1.6 million for the fest according to chair Harold Matzner, who claims the event is second in glamour only to the Golden Globes. Pitt managed to brave the face-lifted Palm Springs throng while walking with a cane, this after he tripped a few days earlier on a ski trip with one of his kids.
Of course there are many more of those to come, and members of the Palm Springs group of awardees and others will be in accepting or presenting mode all week long at events including the New York Film Critics, National Board of Review and LA Film Critics banquets, the annual AFI lunch, the Critics Choice Movie Awards, and finally the Golden Globes. With parties planned this week for DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots, The Weinstein Co and Paramount to name three, this period leading to the CCMAs and Golden Globes is now officially the busiest of the whole season, especially since new Academy rules that allow all this stuff pre-noms also put the kibosh on most of it post-noms. The town is gonna have to dry out anyway. How much can you take, Hollywood?
Palm Springs, CA (December 22, 2011) – The 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present three time Academy Award nominee Stephen Daldry with the Director of the Year Award for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Presented by Cartier, the Awards Gala will be held Saturday, January 7, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Hosted by Mary Hart, the Awards Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees George Clooney, Glenn Close, Michel Hazanavicius, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Williams, and the film Young Adult. The Festival runs January 5-16.
“Stephen Daldry has garnered international acclaim as a director, bringing his consummate skill to both the cinema and stage,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In his latest work, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, he directs a virtuoso cast in the story of a young boy who, after losing his father on 9/11, goes on a quest to learn what an unusual key found in his father’s possessions may unlock. This journey then becomes a metaphor for the need of a child to maintain a close bond with a loved one who died tragically and too soon. For this haunting film and for all of his achievements as a “director’s director,” the Palm Springs International Film Festival is honored to present the 2012 “Director of the Year Award” To Stephen Daldry.”