The 30th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) announced this year’s juried award winners with the top prize, FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year going to Shoplifters (Japan), directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Shoplifters is far more than a heist story. This haunting exploration of love and compassion for marginalized people poses the question of what really defines a family.
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor in a Foreign Language Film: Marcello Fonte from Dogman (Italy), and the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in a Foreign Language Film was awarded to Joanna Kulig from Cold War (Poland).
New Voices New Visions Award went to Sofia (France/Qatar), directed by Meryem Benm’Barek. In Morocco, having sex outside of marriage is punishable by a jail term. When young, single Sofia (Maha Alemi) and her family discover she’s about to give birth, director Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi uses the subsequent family machinations to expose the hypocrisy intrinsic to Morocco’s patriarchal culture.
An Honorable Mention went Saf (Turkey), directed by Ali Vatansever. In Turkey’s competitive workforce, jobs are spread thin, and Kamil has been unemployed for some time. When the opportunity for work finally arrives, it’s in the form of a lower-paid job that displaces a Syrian refugee. Kamil takes the job in secret, working nights, but his problems worsen when he needs to pay for the necessary permits to operate the machinery used or risk losing his job.
The John Schlesinger Award presented to the director of a debut feature documentary went to Ghost Fleet(USA), directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron. The next time you order a filet of exotic fish in a restaurant, spare a thought for the thousands of men enslaved on Indonesian fishing vessels that overfish international waters. One indomitable woman and her small team work to free these slaves and bring them home.
An Honorable Mention was given to Bathtubs Over Broadway (USA), directed by Dava Whisenant. In this exuberant and heartfelt documentary, comedy writer Steve Young delves into the strange and little-known history of industrial musicals: original, Broadway-style extravaganzas that turned humble products like insurance and toilets into the stuff of magic.
The CV Cine Latino Award presented to the best Ibero-American film went to Carmen & Lola (Spain), directed by Arantxa Echevarria. Stunning bride-to-be Carmen and ambitious street artist Lola find themselves in the throes of a secret love, risking safety, status and their own futures within their highly conservative Gypsy community.
An Honorable Mention was given to The Chambermaid (Mexico/USA), directed by Lila Avilés. Living her life within the confines of a pricey Mexico City hotel, shy maid Eve longs for human connection, unexpectedly coming into her own through the promise of education and surprising new friendships in this subtle, assured debut.
The Ricky Jay Magic of Cinema Award named for actor and magician Ricky Jay and given to film made by a master filmmaker that exemplifies a pioneering spirit in furthering the language of storytelling and the magic of cinema went to Dead Pigs (China), directed by Cathy Yan. A mysterious wave of livestock deaths is the groundwork for this award-winning ensemble drama, which combines compassionate explorations of vastly different yet inextricably connected characters with a biting commentary on consumerism and the drive toward modernization in present day Shanghai.
Cinema Without Borders presented the GoE Bridging the Borders Award to a film that is most successful in bridging and connecting the people of our world closer together. GoE Bridging the Borders Award went to Eldorado (Switzerland), directed by Markus Imhoof. Asking deeply relevant questions about humanity and social responsibility, Markus Imhoof draws on his personal experience to show a global phenomenon — the struggle of thousands of refugees fleeing from Africa to Europe, and what happens when they reach their Eldorado.
The Youth Jury Award was awarded to What Will People Say (Norway/Germany/Sweden), directed by Iram Haq. A first-generation Norwegian teen clashes with the traditional values and expectations of her Pakistani immigrant parents in this compelling coming-of-age drama. Writer/director Iram Haq (I Am Yours, PSIFF 2014) smartly probes the problems of a character caught between cultures.
30th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Award Winners
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Shoplifters (Japan), directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor in a Foreign Language Film
Marcello Fonte from Dogman (Italy)
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in a Foreign Language Film
Joanna Kulig from Cold War (Poland)
New Voices/New Visions Award
Sofia (France/Qatar), directed by Meryem Benm’Barek
Honorable Mention: Saf (Turkey), directed by Ali Vatansever
The John Schlesinger Award
Ghost Fleet (USA), directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron
Honorable Mention: Bathtubs Over Broadway(USA), directed by Dava Whisenan
CV Cine Award
Carmen & Lola (Spain), directed by Arantxa Echevarria
Honorable Mention: The Chambermaid (Mexico/USA), directed by Lila Avilés
Ricky Jay Magic of Cinema Award
Dead Pigs (China), directed by Cathy Yan
GoE Bridging the Borders Award
Eldorado (Switzerland), directed by Markus Imhoof
Youth Jury Award
What Will People Say (Norway/Germany/Sweden), directed by Iram Haq