25th Palm Springs International Film Festival
USA, January 3 - January 13 2014
The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) looked better than ever. Positioned as the first major film event of the new year, and recognized as a pivotal venue in the annual awards season push, the festival — situated in this normally sleepy desert town two hours drive from Los Angeles — opened with a star-studded round of gala fetes and honorary awards. The Palm Springs Film Society began the festival the weekend before the Golden Globes, and Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Matthew McConaughey, Bono and U2 all showed up for the occasion. American movie hero Bruce Dern received a lifetime achievement prize and the cast of David O. Russell’s American Hustle took the Ensemble Performance Award.
The PSIFF offered an ambitious program of Academy Award’s foreign language submissions. This year, that meant culling from among a record 76 titles from 76 countries, giving festivalgoers the chance to see 46 of the films. The lineup included festival darlings, audience favorites, dark horses and unique artistic world pieces. Numerous directors dropped into town to present their films, including Italian Paolo Sorrentino (to welcome his audience at the High School screening of The Great Beauty, before heading off to the Golden Globes ceremony), Belgian Felix Van Groeningen (who unfortunately left before receiving our jury’s Best Film FIPRESCI prize for The Broken Circle Breakdown), and Singapore’s Anthony Chen (representing his multi-award winner Ilo Ilo). It was great to see that remarkable pieces were made not just in Europe, but from all around the world — enough to mention Cambodia (The Missing Picture), Singapore (Ilo Ilo), Iran (The Past) and Chile (Gloria).
Palm Springs once again proved to be the place to celebrate international filmmaking, and the festival struck just the right balance, presenting A-list Hollywood stars and smaller, more esoteric entries from the far side of the world. And between screenings, audiences and visiting filmmakers and stars alike could enjoy the 25 Celsius winter weather and all the unique desert flora and fauna (our American colleague, Alissa Simon, even organized a trip to the Indian Canyon outside the city). Leisure, pleasure and plenty of movies — perfect! (György Kárpáti)
Prize for the best actor: Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt (Jagten) directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Prize for the best actress: Bérénice Bejo in The Past (Le Passé) directed by Asghar Farhadi
Palm Springs International Film Festival: www.psfilmfest.org/index.aspx