Winners have been announced for the 29th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) with Richard Loncraine’s romantic comedy Finding Your Feet taking home the Audience Award for best feature film. Finding Your Feet stars Joanna Lumley, Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, and David Hayman, and was written by Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft.
The 2018 PSIFF ran from January 2 through January 15 and screened 180 films. 77 countries were represented by films at this year’s festival. The Palm Springs Film Festival is considered one of North America’s largest film festivals with more than 135,000 people attending last year’s festival.
Palm Springs Film Festival Winners:
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: Finding Your Feet (UK), directed by Richard Loncraine. When snooty “Lady” Sandra Abbott discovers that her husband of 40 years has been having an affair, she packs her designer bags and flees to the shabby council flat of her estranged older sister. A sterling British cast give their all in this heartwarming romantic comedy.
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature: Skid Row Marathon (US) directed by Mark Hayes. Judge Craig Mitchell believes in second chances. This inspiring documentary tracks the running club Mitchell founded for the homeless on L.A.’s Skid Row, hoping that through the discipline of running, these men and women who had lost everything, could reclaim a sense of dignity.
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: Félicité (Senegal), directed by Alain Gomis. Bursting at the seams with energy, Franco-Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis’s Berlin festival prizewinner immerses us in the sights and sounds of Kinshasa while loosely chronicling the day-to-day travails of the eponymous single-mom and nightclub-chanteuse (Congolese singer Véro Tshanda Beya, in an unforgettable performance) at the heart of the film. The film is on the shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award.
FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor in a Foreign Language Film: Nakhane Touré from The Wound (South Africa). South African co-writer/director John Trengove’s balanced drama explores a clandestine relationship between two Xhosa men, set against the backdrop of a traditional coming-of-age ceremony.
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in a Foreign Language Film: Daniela Vega from A Fantastic Woman (Chile). Making a living waiting tables in downtown Santiago while pursuing her dream of becoming an nightclub singer, young transgender woman Marina (Daniela Vega in a stunning debut) finds safety and solace from an often cruel world in her relationship with older divorcee Orlando (Francisco Reyes, Neruda). But when Orlando suffers a violent fall and massive injuries in the last moments of a fatal aneurysm, suspicion falls on Marina, causing her to flee the hospital and the eye of a judgmental city.
New Voices New Visions Award: The Charmer (Denmark), directed by Milad Alami. A searing and topical exploration of the immigrant experience shot through with elements of psychological thriller and erotic drama, Milad Alami’s striking feature debut follows an Iranian man’s increasingly desperate attempts to secure citizenship by seducing a string of Danish women.
Honorable Mention for Exceptional Direction: Léa Mysius for Ava (France). Thirteen-year-old Ava’s summer vacation gains a new urgency when she learns she is rapidly going blind. In the face of creeping darkness, she squeezes in all the life she can, rebelling against her mother, stealing a dog, and becoming romantically entangled with a mysterious beach rat, sending her on an unpredictable journey of self-realization.
Schlesinger Award: Brimstone and Glory (US/Mexico), directed by Viktor Jakovleski. Equal parts awe-inspiring and anxiety-inducing, Brimstone and Glory’s chronicle of an annual fireworks extravaganza in Tultepec, Mexico, is a visual, jaw-dropping spectacle like no other documentary before it.
Cine Latino Award: Killing Jesús (Colombia/Argentina), directed by Laura Mora. When university student Paula witnesses her social activist father’s assassination, the inept, uncaring police force drives her to seek justice on her own. But when she finds herself immersed in the killer’s poverty-stricken world she discovers that they might both be victims of the same broken system.
Honorable Mention: A Fantastic Woman (Chile), directed by Sebastián Lelio.
HP Bridging the Borders Award: The Insult (Lebanon), directed by Ziad Doueiri. What should have been a trivial altercation, quickly settled and forgotten, instead propels two men (one a local Christian, the other a Palestinian refugee) to the center of a very public scandal in Lebanon, reopening historical and political wounds on both sides.