Russia’s Beanpole film has been awarded the Best International Film at the 31st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. The festival, held from January 2-13, screened 192 films from 81 countries.
The jury award categories included the FIPRESCI Prize for films in the International Feature Film Oscar Submissions program; New Voices New Visions Award for unique viewpoints from first- and second-time directors; Best Documentary Award for compelling non-fiction filmmaking; Ibero-American Award for the best film from Latin America, Spain or Portugal; Local Jury Award for the film that promoted understanding and acceptance between people; and the Young Cineastes Award for the film chosen by the Youth Jury. Finally, the GoEnergistics (GoE) Bridging the Borders Award, presented by Cinema Without Borders, honors the film that is most successful in bringing the people of our world closer together. The Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature will be announced Jan. 12.
A special jury of international film critics reviewed 51 of the 93 official submissions for the Academy Awards International Feature Film category screened at this year’s Festival. Awards are presented to the Best International Feature Film, as well as Best Actor and Actress in an International Feature Film, and new this year, Best International Screenplay.
FIPRESCI Prize for Best International Feature Film: Beanpole (Russia), director Kantemir Balagov. Leningrad, 1945. Two scarred Russian women who have survived the war must now learn to survive the peace in this sombre, hypnotically beautiful epic of the aftermath of war by the gifted 28-year-old visionary director Kantemir Balagov.
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actor in a International Feature Film: Bartosz Bielenia from Corpus Christi (Poland). In a world where forgiveness doesn’t come easy, God’s peace works in mysterious ways. After his spiritual awakening in juvenile prison, a 20-year-old violent offender passes himself off as a priest in a community still reeling from tragedy.
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actress in a International Feature Film: Helena Zengel from System Crasher (Germany). Lacking in stature but mighty in her roar, 9-year-old human cyclone Benni is determined to break away from the childcare system that’s failing her and return home to her mother in this wild and complex depiction of youth in revolt.
FIPRESCI Prize for International Screenplay: Parasite (South Korea), screenwriters Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin-Won.
FIPRESCI Prize for International Screenplay Special Mention: Antigone (Canada), screenwrier Sophie Deraspe.
The FIPRESCI jury members were film critics Pamela Biénzobas, Alferov Gavrylyshyn, and Tina Hassannia.
NEW VOICES NEW VISIONS AWARD
The New Voices New Visions Award focuses on films that the festival programming team feels represent the most distinctive new directors who have emerged in the last year. Each of the 17 films in competition represents the filmmaker’s debut or second feature.
New Voices New Visions Award: Song Without A Name (Peru/Spain/USA/Chile), director Melina León. When her pleas are ignored by authorities after her newborn daughter is kidnapped by a shady “clinic,” an indigenous woman enlists the help of a journalist who helps uncover a massive child smuggling operation in this powerful debut feature.
The films were juried by Tre’vell Anderson (journalist), Nancy Collett (founder and president, Cinema Collett) and Evan Morehouse (film buyer, independent).
BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD
The Documentary Award is presented to the director for most compelling non-fiction filmmaking from among those screened at the festival.
Best Documentary Award: Talking About Trees (France/Sudan/Germany/Chad/Qatar), director Suhaib Gasmelbari. Four Sudanese filmmakers attempt to bring back the culture of cinema in a country where politics and fundamentalism have destroyed its film industry. This transportive and profoundly moving documentary is both an elegy and an ode to the enduring power of movies.
The films were juried by Ken Jacobson (senior documentary programmer, AFI Institute), Shannon Service (director/producer, Second Sleep Studios) and Abby Sun (curator, The DocYard).
The Ibero-American Award is presented to the best film from Latin America, Spain or Portugal screened at the festival. The award aims to highlight the creativity seen in modern Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American films.
Ibero-American Award: Monos (Colombia), director Alejandro Landes. Hidden away in a bunker on an Andean mountain top, a small group of teenage guerillas raised to fight in an unnamed conflict descend into madness in this powerful new survivalist drama.
Ibero-American Special Mention: Workforce (Mexico), director David Zonana.
The films were judged by Nestor Bentancor (film journalist & critic, DesdeHollywood), Rodolfo “Fito” Castillo-Morales (documentary programming director, Guadalajara International Film Festival) and Maria Gracia Turgeon (producer, Midi La Nuit).
LOCAL JURY AWARD
The Local Jury Award is presented to the film that promoted understanding and acceptance between people.
Local Jury Award: Adam (Morocco), director Maryam Touzani. Set in the streets of Casablanca, a random encounter between two women irrevocably changes the course of their lives. The unlikely pair slowly builds a trust that evolves into a deep bond, eventually helping both overcome the hardships of their respective lives.
The films were judged by Patricia Garza-Elsperger (producer), Denise Goolsby (Office of Neighborhoods manager, City of Palm Springs), Sergio Pinedo (sales representative, Beauty 4 Pros) and Joseph “Woody” Woodson (driver, Sunline Transit Agency).
YOUNG CINEASTES AWARD
For the second year, the Young Cineastes Award jury is comprised of local students who not only have shown talent and aspirations for making films but a sincere passion for watching and learning more about cinema and life at every moment possible.
Young Cineastes Award: Corpus Christi (Poland), director Jan Komasa. In a world where forgiveness doesn’t come easy, God’s peace works in mysterious ways. After his spiritual awakening in juvenile prison, a 20-year-old violent offender passes himself off as a priest in a community still reeling from tragedy.
The films were judged by students Graham Bennett, Marina Castillo, Sedona Cruz, Daniel Lorette, Stefan Pejovic and Zach Posa.
THE GoE BRIDGING THE BORDERS AWARD
At a time when physical, religious, racial, cultural, and economic borders divide the population of our planet, efforts to bridge those borders should be appreciated. In that spirit, Cinema Without Borders presents the GoE Bridging the Borders Award to a film that is most successful in bridging and connecting the people of our world closer together. The winner of the 2020 GoE Bridging the Borders Award presented by Cinema Without Borders and sponsored by GoEnergistics will receive a cash award of $2,500.
GoE Bridging the Borders Award: Advocate (Israel/Canada/Switzerland), director Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaiche. This intimate and moving documentary spotlights fiercely optimistic and compassionate human rights attorney Lea Tsemel as she continues her lifelong mission of defending the defenseless, despite the torrent of backlash she receives for being an Israeli lawyer seeking justice for Palestinians accused of terrorism.
GoE Bridging the Borders Special Mention: The Australian Dream (Australia), director Daniel Gordon.
The films were juried by Keely Badgers (executive director of Neda Nobari Foundation), Marcy Garriott (independent documentary filmmaker), Vladek Juszkiewicz (founded the Polish Film Festival Los Angeles), Daniela Kon (documentary filmmaker and founder of SIMA Studios), Jim Miller (executive director of Brave New Films), Susan Morgan Cooper (documentary filmmaker) and Bijan Tehrani (founder and editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders, CineEqual and Cinema Without Borders Foundation).
Audience Award winners will be announced on Jan. 12. The Best of the Fest screenings will take place Jan. 13. For a complete list of screenings,visit psfilmfest.org.