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by Steve Greene
January 13, 2013 5:10 PM
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Palm Springs' Award Winners Include 'The Sapphires' and 'Don't Stop Believin''

In a markedly different setting from the massive scope of the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, filmmakers, staff, press and guests gathered at Spencer’s Restaurant Sunday afternoon for the annual festival’s awards presided over by festival director Darryl Macdonald.

Music-themed films proved to be enormous successes. Wayne Blair’s “The Sapphires” took home the Mercedes Benz Audience Award as the highest vote-getter among festivalgoers. On the documentary side, the audience chose Romona Diaz’s “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey.”

Kieron Walsh’s “Jump” claimed the HP Bridging the Borders Award, a co-presentation of HP and Cinema Without Borders. Speaking of the gradual ease of restrictions on the literal border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Walsh explained that his film wasn’t concerned with emphasizing the differences between people on either end of the regions contested boundary area. “It’s about regular people like you and I,” Walsh said.

Accepting the John Schlesinger Award for outstanding first documentary feature, “Stolen Seas” director Thymaya Payne left the room with a simple admonition: “Ask questions about places you don’t know about, because they need our attention.”

The Cine Latino award (given in part by jury member and Indiewire writer Sydney Levine) was given to the festival’s Opening Night film, “Blancanieves.” Adrian Saba’s low-key depiction of the aftermath of a Peruvian epidemic, “The Cleaner” was named the recipient of the festival’s New Voices/New Visions Award.

International film critics Peter Keough and Malwina Grochowska, along with fellow juror Jacob Lundström announced the winners of the FIPRSECI awards. Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void” was deemed Best Film while Emilie Dequenne took the Best Actress prize for her work in “Our Children.” In an intriguing move, the prize for Best Actor was awarded to not just an individual, but a trio of performers at the center of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s genre-skewings feature “Caesar Must Die.”

A series of screenings will be held all day Monday highlighting the remainder of the more popular fare at this year’s PSIFF. Among the anticipated titles include the Danish historical drama “A Royal Affair,” the Norwegian epic “Kon-TIki” and Travis Fine’s “Any Day Now.”

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