Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Among Palm Springs Winners

Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s period martial arts drama The Assassin, Taiwan’s (unsuccessful) entry for the Foreign Language Oscar race, picked up the FIPRESCI Prize at the Palm Springs Film Festival, which announced its juried winners today. The fest, which officially wraps Monday, will announce its audience awards winners Sunday. It has become a must-stop on the awards circuit in the Foreign Language Oscar run-up.

Set in ninth century China during a time of political unrest, Assassin stars Shu Qi as a beautiful woman trained in the arts of swordsmanship who sent to her home province on a lethal mission. The jury, which saw 40 of the 80 Oscar foreign-language entries at the fest, said: “As one of the best films of a master director, and an example of the martial arts genre which is elevated into the realm of art by its superb visual style.”

The Oscar nominations are Thursday. (Check out International Editor Nancy Tartaglione’s handicap here.)

Here’s the full list of Palm Springs juried winners:

FIPRESCI Prize
The Assassin (Taiwan)
Hou Hsiao-Hsien, director

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign Language Film
Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson, Rams (Iceland)

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign Language Film
Alena Mihulová, Home Care (Czech Republic)

New Voices/New Visions Award
Death By Death (Belgium/France)
Xavier Seron, director
(Special jury mention: Thithi (India/U.S., Raam Reddy, director)

John Schlesinger Award
The Birth of Saké (Japan)
Erik Shirai, director

HP Bridging The Borders Award
Umrika (India)
Prashant Nair, director