Palm Springs International Film Festival Names Foreign Film Winners

Russian film "Leviathan" leads pack

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Setting the stage for the year’s film festival circuit, the 26th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival has named its juried award winners Jan. 10 after this year's festival 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 Jan. 11. The Best of the Fest screenings will take place Jan. 12.  Visit for a complete list of screenings.

FIPRESCI PRIZE: Best Foreign Language Film

The jury selected the Oscar shortlisted Leviathan (Russia), directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Film critic and scholar Michael Oleszczyk 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.”

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.

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 U.S. respond to this story and the spirit in which it was told.”


"Winter Sleep" earned the Best Actor Award for a Foreign Language Film.


FIPRESCI Prize: Best Actor, Forest Language Film

The award went to Haluk Bilginer from Winter Sleep (Turkey), directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, which is on the Oscar shortlist. Fest juror Ernesto Diezmartínez Guzman 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 (left) from "Mommy" was selected Best Acrtress in a Foreign Language Film.


FIPRESCI Prize: Best Actress, Forest Language Film

Anne Dorval from Mommy (Canada), directed by Xavier Dolan, received the honor. Film critic Ella Taylor said, “As the somewhat unhinged mother of a throughly 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."


"No One's Child" out of Serbia made its feature film debut at the festival without U.S, distribution to qualify for the New Voices/New Visions Award.



The New Voices/New Visions jury selected No One’s Child (Serbia), directed by Vuk Ršumovic. The film is a tale about the desire to be loved and to belong 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 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.


"Walking Under Water," directed by Eliza Kubarska, received 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.

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.”


"Corn Island," directed by George Ovashvili, received 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 the 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, 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.”

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