Hou Hsiao-Hsien the assassin

The 27th Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) held from January 1 to 11, 2016, announced this year’s juried award winners. The Oscar shortlisted The Assassin (Taiwan), directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien won the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. In 9th-century China, during a time of political unrest, a beautiful woman, trained in the arts of swordsmanship, is sent to her home province on a lethal mission. The jury presented the award, “As one of the best films of a master director, and an example of the martial arts genre which is elevated into the realm of art by its superb visual style.”

FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign Language Film went to Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson from Rams (Iceland), directed by Grimur Hakonarson, and the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign Language Film went to Alena Mihulová from Home Care (Czech Republic), directed by Slávek Horák.

The New Voices/New Visions competition included 12 new international talents making their feature film debut at the Festival, with the additional criteria that the films selected are currently without U.S. distribution and are US premieres. The winner of the New Voices/New Visions award is Death By Death (Belgium/France), directed by Xavier Seron. The film is a tale about the relationship of anxious, part-time actor Michel and his ailing, overly attached mother, who has been told that she is living on borrowed time, but has no intention of dying. A special jury mention goes to Thithi (India/US).

The Birth of Saké (Japan), directed by Erik Shirai, received The John Schlesinger Award, which is presented to a first-time documentary filmmaker. The film is about a beautiful and immersive portrait of life at the 144-year old Yoshida Brewery, a producer of world class sake. With changing times ahead and new regime led by the 6th generation heir, this is a rarified look at the personal and professional intensity needed to create a revered product and the artisans behind it.

The HP Bridging the Borders Award is presented by Cinema Without Borders and Hewlett Packard, which honors the film that is most successful in exemplifying art that promotes bringing the people of our world closer together. Umrika (India), directed by Prashant Nair, received the award. The film traces the journey from mountain village innocence to big city experience of young Rama, who follows in his older brother’s footsteps to discover if he made it to the USA, or came to a sticky end in Mumbai.

The complete list of award winners are:

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
The Assassin (Taiwan), directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien

FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign Language Film
Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson from Rams (Iceland)

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign Language Film
Alena Mihulová from Home Care (Czech Republic)

New Voices/New Visions Award
Winner: Death By Death (Belgium/France), directed by Xavier Seron
Special Mention: Thithi (India/US), directed by Raam Reddy

The John Schlesinger Award
The Birth of Saké (Japan), directed by Erik Shirai

HP Bridging the Borders Award
Umrika (India), directed by Prashant Nair

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