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Film Festival Roundup: PSIFF Honors Mahershala Ali and Andrew Garfield, New Festival Hits PEI and More

Keep up with the always-hopping film festival world with our weekly Film Festival Roundup column.




Keep up with the always-hopping film festival world with our weekly Film Festival Roundup column. Check out last week’s Roundup right here.

Lineup Announcements

– The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) has revealed its Opening Night and Closing Night films to be included in the 2017 lineup of this year’s edition, which returns for another expansive 23 days from Tuesday, January 24 through Wednesday, February 15.

Starting off the festival on January 24 is WWII drama “Alone in Berlin,” starring Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson. Closing out the festival on February 15 will be “The Women’s Balcony,” which was nominated for five Israeli Academy Awards. In addition to Opening and Closing Nights, AJFF has announced that the romantic comedy “Family Commitments” will screen for its Young Professionals Night, presented by ACCESS, a special event aimed at younger audiences.

The full lineup of 75 feature-length and short films from around the globe along with the official schedule will be announced on Friday, January 6 and tickets will go on sale via AJFF.org, beginning Wednesday, January 18. For more information, visit AJFF.org, or stay connected via social media on Twitter @ATLJewishFilm and on Facebook and Instagram at atljewishfilm.

“The Women’s Balcony”

Other Announcements

– Organizers have announced the creation of “an innovative cultural festival featuring films, salon-style dinners, and inspirational talks, running July 13–16, 2017 in Charlottetown — the picturesque, Atlantic seaside capital of Canada’s Prince Edward Island”: the PEI Film, Food & Idea Festival. The new fest’s unique format “will give attendees the opportunity to see the latest thought-provoking works and take them well beyond the screen to stimulate deeper discussion and create broader awareness.”

“We are thrilled to launch the PEI Film, Food & Idea Festival with the generous financial support of the province of Prince Edward Island,” said event founder and veteran festival producer Colin Stanfield (New York Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival). “The Festival will provide filmmakers and social change agents an opportunity to inspire and interact around a highly-curated and topical film program. Keynotes and talks with internationally recognized experts as well as special salon dinners featuring locally sourced foods will serve to deepen conversations, build awareness, and generate impact.”

A signature program of the Festival — Talks with Vicki Gabereau — moderated by Canadian cultural icon Vicki Gabereau will bring together festival and conference participants in a lively, talk show format. Vicki will be one of the key faces of the Festival.

Running concurrent with the Festival, the pro-social youth conference will inspire homegrown employment opportunities in media, technology, culture and the burgeoning multi-platform storytelling space. The Conference’s Fellows Scholarship Program will bring together conference participants and an extraordinary line up of filmmakers, keynote speakers, business leaders, and high-profile proponents of social change. Charlottetown artist and cultural event producer Becka Viau (Art in the Open, Reading Town PEI, the Island Literary Awards, ECMA Community Linkages Program) will be working with the festival organizers to help program and produce the youth conference.

Full Festival and conference details will be announced late May/early June 2017. Film screenings will take place at City Cinema and the Florence Simmons Performance Hall at Holland College. Early bird discounts on the All-Festival Patron Pass will be available early 2017.

Honors and Tributes

– The 28th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Mahershala Ali with the Breakthrough Performance Award for his role in “Moonlight” at its annual Film Awards Gala.  The Film Awards Gala, hosted by Mary Hart, will be held Monday, January 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 2-16, 2017.

“Mahershala Ali is one of the most in-demand actors in film and television,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner in a statement. “Ali gives one of the best supporting performances of the year in ‘Moonlight’ as Juan, a Miami drug dealer who opens his doors to Little when he sees the boy being chased through the streets by a gang. For this role that has already received several awards and is sure to receive many more, it is our honor to present the Breakthrough Performance Award to Mahershala Ali.”

Past recipients of the Breakthrough Performance Award include Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Hudson, Felicity Huffman, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike and Jeremy Renner.  In the years they were honored, Cotillard, Hudson, Larson and Nyong’o went on to receive Academy Awards, while Huffman, Pike and Renner received nominations.

“Hacksaw Ridge”

– PSIFF will also present Andrew Garfield with the Spotlight Award for his role in Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” at its annual Film Awards Gala.

“Andrew Garfield is one of the most versatile actors today and this is proven with his tremendous and critically acclaimed performance this year in Mel Gibson’s award-winning film ‘Hacksaw Ridge,’” said Matzner in a statement. “In ‘Hacksaw Ridge,’ Garfield brings to life the incredible true story of World War II soldier Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who refused to touch a gun during wartime and instead dedicated himself to saving lives as a combat medic.  For this brilliant awards worthy performance, it is an honor to present Andrew Garfield with the Spotlight Award.”

Past recipients of the Spotlight Award include Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Helen Hunt, Rooney Mara, Julia Roberts and J.K. Simmons. All recipients received Academy Award nominations in the year they were honored, with Simmons receiving the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

– The Athena Film Festival (AFF) has announced its 2017 awardees, celebrating female leaders in the entertainment industry and those who support them. The festival will honor Tony Award-winning playwright, activist, performer and author Eve Ensler; director, producer and screenwriter Patricia Riggen; and Emmy Award-winning producer, media activist and social entrepreneur Regina K. Scully. Actor and producer David Oyelowo will receive the Athena Leading Man Award.

The seventh annual festival, co-founded by the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood, will take place February 9-12, 2017, at Barnard College in New York City.

The Athena Film Festival celebrates the leadership and creative accomplishments of trailblazers in the entertainment industry who continue to break boundaries. The festival showcases films about powerful and courageous women leaders in real life and the fictional world; it is a weekend dedicated to elevating female voices and stories to inspire and empower a new generation of filmmakers and individuals.

Previous Athena Film Festival awardees include Jodie Foster, Ava DuVernay, Mira Nair, Diablo Cody, Kasi Lemmons, Karyn Kusama, Callie Khouri, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Sheila Nevins, Julie Taymor, Sherry Lansing and Gale Anne Hurd, among others.

“Hell or High Water”

– The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has announced that Jeff Bridges will be honored with the 2017 American Riviera Award at the 32nd edition of the Fest, which runs from February 1 to February 11, 2017. Bridges will be fêted with a Tribute celebrating his illustrious career, culminating with his captivating performance in David Mackenzie’s “Hell or High Water.” The Tribute will take place on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at the historic Arlington Theatre.

“Jeff Bridges shows us in ‘Hell or High Water’ that an already great artist can continue his growth.  I may go as far as saying that this is his best performance,” said SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling in a statement. “It’s truly special to be able to celebrate Jeff – for he’s not only a dear friend of SBIFF – but he is a timeless legend in our industry.”

The American Riviera Award was established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema. Bridges will join a prestigious group of past recipients, including last year’s honorees Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo (2016), Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke (2015), Robert Redford (2014), Quentin Tarantino (2013) and Martin Scorsese (2012), Annette Bening (2011), Sandra Bullock (2010), Mickey Rourke (2009), Tommy Lee Jones (2008), Forrest Whitaker (2007), Philip Seymour Hoffman (2006), Kevin Bacon (2005) and Diane Lane (2004).

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