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Palm Springs Film Festival Prizes Go to Isabelle Huppert, ‘Toni Erdmann’

Gael Garcia Bernal and ”Neruda“ also receive jury awards from festival


Actors Isabelle Huppert and Gael Garcia Bernal and the films “Toni Erdmann,” “White Sun,” “No Dress Code Required,” “Neruda” and “Mercenary” have won the jury prizes at the 28th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, PSIFF organizers announced at a luncheon on Saturday.

Three of the awards were handed out by a jury consisting of members of FIPRESCI, the international organization of film critics. They viewed the 43 entries in the Oscar foreign-language race that screened in Palm Springs (out of a total field of 85).

The top prize went to Maren Ade’s dark comedy “Toni Erdmann,” a frontrunner in the Oscar race.

The FIPRESCI best-actor prize went to Garcia Bernal for his portrayal of a policeman trying to track down the poet and politician Pablo Neruda in Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda.” The best-actress award was given to recent Golden Globe winner Isabelle Huppert for her part in Paul Verhoeven’s transgressive and disturbing “Elle.”

Gus Van Sant’s “When We Rise” won the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. The first episode of the seven-part series screened as a premiere at the festival. A companion prize for Best Documentary Feature went to “Take Me Home Huey,” Alicia Brauns’ and Christine Steele’s film about artist Steve Maloney’s iconic sculpture paying tribute to those who served in Vietnam.

Despite their success with the Palm Springs jurors, neither “Elle” nor “Neruda” made the nine-film Oscar shortlist in the foreign language category.

A jury of programmers and distributors gave the New Voices/New Visions Award to Deepak Rauniyar’s “White Sun,” a dark comedy set in the aftermath of the Nepalese civil war. It was competing in a group of 10 first or second narrative features from emerging international directors.

The John Schlesinger Award, which goes to the first or second-time director of a documentary, was given to “No Dress Code Required.” Cristina Herrera Bórquez’s film is about a same-sex couple in Mexico fighting for the right to be married.

The Cine Latino Award, which goes to the best Ibero-American film screening in Palm Springs, went to “Neruda.”

And the HP Bridging the Borders Award, which salutes a film that “exemplify[ies] art that promotes bringing the people of our world closer to together,” went to Sacha Wolff’s “Mercenary,” a thriller about a Polynesian rugby player in France.

PSIFF audience awards will be announced on Sunday.

The Palm Springs festival began with its annual awards gala on Monday, January 2. It will end on Monday, January 16, after screening 190 films from 72 different countries.

The awards:

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
“Toni Erdmann” (Germany), directed by Maren Ade

FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor in a Foreign Language Film
Gael García Bernal in “Neruda” (Chile)

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in a Foreign Language Film
Isabelle Huppert in “Elle” (France)

New Voices/New Visions Award
Winner: “White Sun” (Nepal/U.S./Qatar/Netherlands), directed by Deepak Runiyar
Special Mentions: “Kati Kati” (Kenya/Germany), directed by Mbithi Masya and “Mellow Mud” (Latvia), directed by Renārs Vimba

John Schlesinger Award
Winner: “No Dress Code Required” (Mexico), directed by Cristina Herrera Bórquez
Special Mention: “Beauties of the Night” (Mexico), directed by Maria José Cuevas

Cine Latino Award
Winner: “Neruda” (Chile), directed by Pablo Larraín
Special Mention: “Everything Else” (Mexico), directed by Natalia Alamda

HP Bridging the Borders Award
“Mercenary” (France), directed by Sacha Wolff

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