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Film Festival Honors Les Misérables Director, 'Life of Pi' Composer

Tom Hooper will receive the Sonny Bono Visionary Award; Mychael Danna earns Frederick Lowe Composing award.

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Composer Mychael Danna (left) and director Tom Hooper will be honored at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan. 5.
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Les Misérables film director Tom Hooper and Life of Pi music composer Mychael Danna will be honored at the 24th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala set for Jan. 5 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Hosted by Mary Hart, the Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees including the cast of Argo led by Ben Affleck, Richard Gere, Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Helen Mirren, Naomi Watts and Robert Zemeckis. The Festival runs Jan. 3-14.

Hooper will receive the Sonny Bono Visionary Award for his direction of the film, Les Misérables, which premieres Christmas Day in movie theaters. Past recipients of the award include Danny Boyle, Quentin Tarantino, Michel Hazanavicius, Baz Luhrmann and Gus Van Sant.

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the endurance of the human spirit. The production stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

“In his follow-up to the Academy Award-winning film The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper brilliantly transforms the classic stage musical Les Misérables into a cinema marvel,” said Festival chairman Harold Matzner.  “By asking his amazing cast of actors to sing live on film, Hooper allows them to connect even further with their characters, resulting in emotional powerhouse performances that are enthralling audiences worldwide."

Hooper received a Best Director nomination for the film from the Broadcast Film Critics. The film has received an AFI Award for one of the top 10 movies of the year and Best Ensemble and one of the top 10 movies from the National Board of Review. The film has also received four Golden Globe nominations including Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and four SAG Award nominations including Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture.

Hooper won an Academy Award for directing The King’s Speech.  The 2010 film was nominated for 12 Oscars, more than any other film of that year, and also won Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. Hooper has had an unprecedented run of success at the Golden Globes with his work for HBO, which won a Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television three years in a row (2007, 2008 and 2009) for John Adams, Longford and Elizabeth I.  His other work includes Red Dust, Prime Suspect 6, Daniel Deronda, Love in a Cold Climate, Cold Feet and EastEnders.

Danna will receive the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing. Past recipients include T Bone Burnett, Alexandre Desplat, Danny Elfman, Randy Newman and Diane Warren.

“Mychael is a pioneer in creating original compositions that are as dramatic and innovative as the films in which they are featured,” continued Matzner.  “His score for Life of Pi takes you on an emotional journey that plays off the 3-D visuals director Ang Lee created.”

Based on the book that has sold more than seven million copies and spent years on the bestseller lists, Life of Pi is a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery.  While cast away, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with another survivor…a fearsome Bengal tiger.  In addition to writing the original score, Danna co-wrote the film’s original song “Pi’s Lullaby” with singer/songwriter Bombay Jayashri, who performs the song in her native Tamil language. Danna has received a Golden Globe nomination for his original score, as well as a nomination for Best Score from the Broadcast Film Critics.

Life of Pi marks Danna’s third collaboration with Lee, having previously written the original music for The Ice Storm and Ride with the Devil.  He has won five Genie Awards for his composing work on the films Water, directed by Deepa Mehta, and on Atom Egoyan films’ Ararat, Felicia’s Journey, The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica. His other credits include Moneyball, Capote, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Vanity Fair, Monsoon Wedding, Little Miss Sunshine, (500) Days of Summer, Family Viewing, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Girl, Interrupted, Lakeview Terrace, Surf’s Up, Being Julia, Antwone Fisher, Hearts in Atlantis and 8MM.

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