Shoplifters, a film that has already won the Palme D’Or in Cannes and is Japan’s submission to the Academy Awards, has been chosen the Best Foreign Language film at the 30th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.
The film festival, which ran Jan, 3-14, announced its award winners Jan. 12 after screening 226 films from 78 countries.
The Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature went to The Grizzlies (Canada) and The Biggest Little Farm (USA), respectively..
Juried awards had five categories, including New Voices New Visions Award for unique viewpoints from first- and second-time directors; Schlesinger Documentary Award for first- or second-time documentary filmmakers; CV Cine Award for the best Ibero-American film; and the FIPRESCI Prize for films in the Foreign Language Oscar Submissions program.
This year, the festival also had a new honor, the Ricky Jay Magic of Cinema Award, named for actor and magician Ricky Jay and in honor of a film made by a master filmmaker that exemplifies a pioneering spirit in furthering the language of storytelling and the magic of cinema. Like much of the work Jay was associated with, the films in consideration for this award exemplified this spirit and continue to remind us of the dream that is storytelling on the silver screen.
Finally, the GoEBridging the Borders Award, presented by Cinema Without Borders, honors the film that is most successful in bringing the people of our world closer together.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The Biggest Little Farm focuses on Chester and his wife Molly as they acquire and establish their farm in Moorpark, California.
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: The Grizzlies, directed by Miranda de Pencier. The young people of a remote Arctic town with one of the highest teen suicide rates in the world rediscover their confidence, identity and community through the age-old sport of lacrosse.
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature: The Biggest Little Farm directed by John Chester. Idealistic city dwellers John and Molly Chester bought a farm on arid land an hour north of Los Angeles. Their eight-year struggle to turn Apricot Lane Farms into a biodiverse Eden is chronicled in this astonishing and uplifting epic.
A special jury of international film critics reviewed 43 of the 87 official submissions for the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category screened at this year’s Festival. Awards are presented to the Best Foreign Language Film, as well as Best Actor and Actress in a Foreign Language Film.
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: Shoplifters, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, is far more than a heist story. This haunting exploration of love and compassion for marginalized people poses the question of what really defines a family.
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor in a Foreign Language Film: Marcello Fonte from Dogman (Italy). Italian maestro Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah, PSIFF 2009) returns with a visually astounding and biting morality tale centered on Marcello, a meek dog groomer and small-time drug dealer, and his toxic relationship with a barbaric gangster who terrorizes his desolate coastal town.
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in a Foreign Language Film: Joanna Kulig from Cold War (Poland). It’s been five years since the Academy Award-winning Ida, but Pawel Pawlikowski’s achingly beautiful portrait of l’amour fou proves well worth the wait. Unfolding against the backdrop of the Cold War years in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the film renders believable a complicated and disruptive love in impossible times.
The FIPRESCI jury members were Thomas Abeltshauser (film critic and journalist), Elaine Guerini (film critic and journalist) and Marietta Steinhart (film critic).
NEW VOICES NEW VISIONS AWARD
The New Voices New Visions focuses on films that the festival’s programmers felt represent the most distinctive new directors that have emerged in the last year. Each of the 14 films in competition represents the filmmakers debut or second feature.
New Voices New Visions Award: Sofia (France/Qatar, directed by Meryem Benm’Barek. In Morocco, having sex outside of marriage is punishable by a jail term. When young, single Sofia (Maha Alemi) and her family discover she’s about to give birth, director Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi uses the subsequent family machinations to expose the hypocrisy intrinsic to Morocco’s patriarchal culture.
Honorable Mention: Saf (Turkey), directed by Ali Vatansever. In Turkey’s competitive workforce, jobs are spread thin, and Kamil has been unemployed for some time. When the opportunity for work finally arrives, it’s in the form of a lower-paid job that displaces a Syrian refugee. Kamil takes the job in secret, working nights, but his problems worsen when he needs to pay for the necessary permits to operate the machinery used or risk losing his job.
The films were juried by David Boyle (writer/director, Man from Reno), Carly Hugo (producer, Loveless) and George Stroumboulopoulos (music interviewer, House of Strombo).
THE JOHN SCHLESINGER AWARD
Named after the director, writer, producer and festival supporter, is presented to the director of a debut feature documentary from among those screened at the festival.
Schlesinger Award: Ghost Fleet (USA), directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron. The next time you order a filet of exotic fish in a restaurant, spare a thought for the thousands of men enslaved on Indonesian fishing vessels that overfish international waters. One indomitable woman and her small team work to free these slaves and bring them home.
Honorable Mention: Bathtubs Over Broadway (USA), directed by Dava Whisenant. In this exuberant and heartfelt documentary, comedy writer Steve Young delves into the strange and little-known history of industrial musicals: original, Broadway-style extravaganzas that turned humble products like insurance and toilets into the stuff of magic.
The films were juried by Laura Henneman (manager of Creative Producing & Artist Support, Sundance Institute), Viktor Jakovleski (filmmaker) and Caleb Ward (acquisitions, The Orchard).
CV Cine AWARD
The Cine Latino Award is presented to the best Ibero-American film screening at the festival. The award aims to highlight the creativity seen in modern Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American films.
CV Cine Award: Carmen & Lola (Spain), directed by Arantxa Echevarria. Stunning bride-to-be Carmen and ambitious street artist Lola find themselves in the throes of a secret love, risking safety, status and their own futures within their highly conservative Gypsy community.
Honorable Mention: The Chambermaid (Mexico/USA), directed by Lila Avilés. Living her life within the confines of a pricey Mexico City hotel, shy maid Eve longs for human connection, unexpectedly coming into her own through the promise of education and surprising new friendships in this subtle, assured debut.
The films were judged by Vanessa Erazo (film & TV editor, Remezcla), Laura Mora (director & writer) and Luis Ortiz (managing director, Latino Public Broadcasting)
THE RICKY JAY MAGIC OF CINEMA AWARD
Ricky Jay Magic of Cinema Award: Dead Pigs (China), directed by Cathy Yan. A mysterious wave of livestock deaths is the groundwork for this award-winning ensemble drama, which combines compassionate explorations of vastly different yet inextricably connected characters with a biting commentary on consumerism and the drive toward modernization in present day Shanghai.
The films were judged by Rian Johnson (director, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi), James Ponsoldt (director, The Spectacular Now) and Margery Simkin (casting director, Avatar).
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 2018 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: Eldorado (Switzerland), directed by Markus Imhoof. Asking deeply relevant questions about humanity and social responsibility, Markus Imhoof draws on his personal experience to show a global phenomenon — the struggle of thousands of refugees fleeing from Africa to Europe, and what happens when they reach their Eldorado.
Honorable Mention: Smuggling Hendrix (Cyprus/Germany/Greece), directed by Marios Piperides. A down-on-his-luck Greek Cypriot musician must think creatively when his adorable dog accidentally crosses over to the Turkish side of Nicosia. This droll comedy captures the absurdity and tragedy of a complicated political situation.
The films were juried by Rakhshan Banietemad (Academy Awards member), Susan Morgan Cooper (director/producer/writer), Jan Cvitkovič(filmmaker/archeologist/writer/director), Jim Miller (executive director, Brave New Films), Sedika Mojadidi (independent filmmaker), Neda Nobari (community activist, Neda Nobari Foundation), Daniel Sawka (director/writer,HBO’s Icebox), Adam Shepherd (president and CEO, Go Energistics), Bijan Tehrani (film director/critic/writer/editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders).
YOUTH JURY AWARD
This is the first ever jury comprised of local student for the Palm Springs International Film Festival, expanding upon what we do in ShortFest over the summer. The Youth Jury is comprised of 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. This group of young people spans from Yucca Valley all the way to Coachella and none of them had really met or knew each other before coming together to be a part of this jury. There couldn’t not be a more deserving group of young people to represent the future generation coming from the greater Palm Springs area.
Youth Jury Award: What Will People Say (Norway/Germany/Sweden), directed by Iram Haq. A first-generation Norwegian teen clashes with the traditional values and expectations of her Pakistani immigrant parents in this compelling coming-of-age drama. Writer/director Iram Haq (I Am Yours, PSIFF 2014) smartly probes the problems of a character caught between cultures.
For more information, visit psfilmfest.org.