Zack Gottsagen has been named the recipient of the Rising Star Award at the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival, organizers announced on Wednesday. The star of “The Peanut Butter Falcon” will receive the award at the PSIFF Film Awards Gala on Jan. 2.
Gottsagen joins previously announced honorees Dakota Fanning, Gal Gadot, Anna Kendrick, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence and Alicia Vikander.
“The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of the best feel-good movies of the year,” Festival chairman Harold Matzner said. “Its star Zack Gottsagen gives an outstanding performance as a young man with Down syndrome who runs away from a residential nursing home to fulfill his dream and ends up going on a life-changing journey. We look forward to seeing more of Zack in future roles and it is our great honor to present him with the Rising Star Award.”
“The Peanut Butter Falcon” centers on a down-on-his-luck fisherman and a young man bent on achieving an impossible dream, make their way down the waterways of a mythical American South with the help of a succession of colorful strangers. First-time feature writers/directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz wrote the film specifically for Gottsagen after meeting him at a camp for actors with disabilities. Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, Thomas Haden Church and Jon Bernthal also feature in the film. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” surpassed $20 million at the box office.
An actor and a dancer, Gottsagen performed with Southern Dance Theatre for 13 years and assisted teaching there, as well as helped teach theater to children at Standing Ovation Performing Arts. He has been involved with Zeno Mountain Farm nonprofit film productions from 2008 performing in multiple independent movies including “Burning Like a Fire,” “Life of a Dollar Bill,” the short film “Bulletproof” and documentary “Becoming Bulletproof.”
The Palm Springs International Film Festival begins on Jan. 2 and runs through Jan. 13 in the desert resort town east of Los Angeles.