By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire June 28, 2010 at 10:27AM
Finding a future in film was on the minds of a lot of folks over the past week in the California desert. The 16th Palm Springs International ShortFest screened some 300+ films in its main program and offered another 3,000 at its concurrent film market. When all was said and done, one film in particular grabbed a great deal of attention.
Described by indieWIRE contributor Kim Adelman as, "a black comedy about the perils of middle-age internet dating," Jacques Bonnavent's "The Gold Mine" (La Mina de Oro) won three prizes including Best of the Festival, as the ShortFest event started to wrap-up last night in Southern California.
"With a strong eye and an undeniable funny bone, Bonnavent is a filmmaker with a bright future ahead," praised Adelman in the recent festival preview. Striving for such sentiment is what drew hundreds of filmmakers to the increasingly important festival for short films.
The Palm Springs fest, a sibling of the annual international festival held here each January, has become the largest of its kind in this country. A total of 27 awards were presented and winners were re-screened as the event drew to a close in the desert.
Winning a top honor in one of four categories at the fest puts "The Gold Mine" in the running for an Academy Award. The prize places the movie in consideration for the Oscar given ShortFest's stature as one of 65 Oscar qualifying festivals. 68 films from the sixteen year festival have gone on to receive Academy Award nominations, according to organizers.
Despite summer temperatures that top 100 hundred degrees daily here in Palm Springs this time of year, the festival reported record attendance.
Programming showcased short films in a variety of themed collections that unspooled at the Camelot Theatres multiplex in town, meanwhile over at the nearby Hilton hotel panel discussions, a video screening room and a busy filmaker lounge gave attendees a place to get out of the heat.
Seminars included sessions where filmmakers could listen to producers, festival programmers, marketers, media or financiers, while a signature event featured a conversastion with actor turned scholar James Franco. Like the many filmmakers using shorts as a calling card, Franco moved into making films as a way to jump start his own career. After a screening of three recent student short films -- "The Feast of Stephen," "The Clerk's Tale," and "Herbert White" -- Franco spent an illuminating hour chatting with Variety's Peter Bart, demonstrating an intriguing curiosity for the creative process.
Realizing that he'd "never be able to express what I wanted to express as an actor" lead Franco to filmmaking he told a full house on Saturday afternoon here in Palm Springs. Hoping to harness his creativity pushed him towards studying filmmaking.
The movies he's made so far have been adaptations of poems and a subsequent collaboration with artist Carter allowed him to deconstruct his own work as an actor (in the recent film, "Erased James Franco"), while also leading him to a role on TV soap "General Hospital." He asked for a part on the daily TV series to mirror his role in a new movie with Carter dubbed "Maladies." In the feature he said he'll play a soap star alongside Kathy Bates, Julianne Moore and Catherine Keener.
Read more on the James Franco Q & A at Thompson On Hollywood.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival officially comes to a close today after a round of Best of the Fest screenings.
The 2010 Palm Springs International ShortFest award winners:
BEST OF FESTIVAL AWARD:
"The Gold Mine" (La Mina de Oro) (Mexico), directed by Jacques Bonnavent
FUTURE FILMMAKER AWARD:
Pierre Ferriere for "The Story of My Life" (Toute ma Vie) (France)
PANAVISION GRAND JURY AWARD:
"Off Season" (Canada/USA), directed by Jonathan van Tulleken
JURY SPECIAL CITATION:
"Flawed" (Canada), directed by Andrea Dorfman "for the originality of its artistic expression, its genre-defying aesthetic and its emotional resonance."
AUDIENCE FAVORITE LIVE ACTION SHORT:
"Wish 143" (UK), directed by Ian Barnes
AUDIENCE FAVORITE DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
"Born Sweet" (Cambodia), directed by Cynthia Wade
AUDIENCE FAVORITE ANIMATION SHORT:
"Ormie" (Canada), directed by Rob Silvestri
JURY CATEGORY AWARDS
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT 15 MINUTES AND UNDER
First Place ($2,000) - "The Gold Mine" (La Mina de Oro) (Mexico), directed by Jacques Bonnavent
Second Place ($500) - "Pretty Little Doggie" (USA), directed by E. Ivan Infante
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT OVER 15 MINUTES:
First Place ($2,000) - "Hermann" (Germany/UK), directed by Hana Geissendorfer
Second Place ($500) - "Aquarium" (Norway), Brad Rossevold
BEST ANIMATED SHORT:
First Place ($2,000) - "Angry Man" (Sinna Mann) (Norway), directed by Anita Killi
Second Place ($500) - "The Lost Thing" (Australia/UK), directed by Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
First Place ($2,000) - "The Shutdown" (Scotland), directed by Adam Stafford
Second Place ($500) - "Cohen on the Bridge: Rescue at Entebbe" (Israel/UK), directed by Andrew Wainrib
Jury Special Citation - The jury presented a special mention to "The Lucky Ones" (Szczesciarze) (Poland), directed by Tomasz Wolski "for transforming a routine look at bureaucratic procedures into a wry, poignant and subversive exploration of the human experience."
BEST STUDENT LIVE ACTION SHORT 15 MINUTES AND UNDER
First Place ($2,000) - "Daughters" (China/USA), directed by Chloe Zhao
Second Place ($500) - "Side by Side" (Nebeneinander) (Germany), directed by Christoph Englert
BEST STUDENT LIVE ACTION SHORT OVER 15 MINUTES:
First Place ($2,000) - "The Road Home" (India/USA), directed by Rahul Gandotra
Second Place ($500) - "God of Love" (USA), directed by Luke Matheny
BEST STUDENT ANIMATED SHORT:
First Place - "Prayers for Peace" (USA), directed by Dustin Grella
Second Place - "Urs" (Germany), directed by Moritz Mayerhofer
BEST STUDENT DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
First Place - "The Little Snow Animal" (Lumikko) (Finland), directed by Miia Tervo
Second Place - "A Moth in Spring" (Canada/USA), directed by Yu Gu
KODAK AWARD FOR BEST STUDENT CINEMATOGRAPHY
First Place - Jaron Henrie-McCrea (cinematographer), "Sinkhole" (USA)
Second Place - Ilyeon Kim (cinematographer), "A Scene at the Sea" (Gu Yeo-Rum-Eui Ba-da) (South Korea/USA)
The Alexis Award for Best Emerging Student Filmmaker
"Some Boys Don't Leave" (USA), directed by Maggie Kiley
The Cinema Without Borders Best International Film Award
"War" (Uerra) (Italy), directed by Paolo Sassanelli