At the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards, French-language sperm donor comedy “Starbuck” won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature, while “The Girls in the Band” and “Wish Me Away” tied for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Directed by Ken Scott, “Starbuck” is a Canadian production that centers on a class action suit filed by 142 adults against their prolific sperm donor dad.
Directed by Judy Chaikin, “The Girls in the Band” is about the hidden history of women jazz musicians, while Bobbi Birleffii and Beverly Kopf’s “Wish Me Away” profiles singer-songwriter Chely Wright, a devout Christian who also happens to be a lesbian.
The New Voices/New Visions award, which recognizes an international film that does not have U.S. distribution, went to the Slovak Republic title “The House,” directed by Zuzana Liová. The winner receives a $60,000 Panavision camera rental package.
Juried by Jeff Lipsky, co-managing executive of Adopt Films, Paul Hudson, co-founder of Outsider Films and Tom Quinn, co-president The Weinstein Company/New Label, they said: “Although the story told in The House is not a new one, we felt that the direction and performances took the film to the next level, and made us understand why a father may not be able to let go of his children, and also why they would want to leave. The motivations behind the characters felt real and made for a compelling film about a girl’s journey to adulthood.”
The FIPRESCI Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year went to Bela Tarr’s “The Turin Horse,” which is also Hungary’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Matthias Schoenaerts received the FIPRESCI Award for Best Actor for his role in the Belgian drama “Bullhead,” directed by Michaël R. Roskam, “for his superb portrayal of an innocent and sensitive man trapped in a truculent body.”
The ensemble cast from “A Separation” — Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat and Sarina Farhadi — received the FIPRESCI Award for Best Actress, “for their naturalistic, powerful and fully interdependent portrayals of three women grappling with complex questions of guilt and morality.” The film is directed by Asghar Farhadi.
Mexican film “The Tiniest Place,” directed by Tatiana Huezo Sanchez, received The John Schlesinger Award, which is presented to a first-time documentary filmmaker. The Tiniest Place is the story of Cinquera, a small town in rural El Salvador that was completely depopulated during the Civil War, as told by the survivors who have returned to rebuild their lives on their native soil.
The films were judged by Mark Jonathan Harris, three-time Oscar-winning documentary director; Oliver Ike, director of theatrical and non-theatrical sales at Seventh Art Releasing; and Michael Lumpkin, Executive Director of the International Documentary Association.
Italian drama “Terraferma,” directed by Emanuele Crialese, received the HP Bridging the Borders Award presented by Cinema Without Borders and Hewlett Packard. In Italy’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission, an elderly Sicilian fisherman who rescues a boatload of African immigrants must decide whether to do what the law demands or what he knows to be right.
The runner-up was Aki Kaurismäki’s “Le Havre,” which is also Finland’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission.
Winners were announced at a luncheon Sunday afternoon in Palm Springs.