Palm Springs Film Festival Names ‘Toni Erdmann’ Best Foreign Film


Updated below with audience award winners.

Toni Erdmann was named Best Foreign Film at the 28th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. The prize was one of the juried award winners revealed at a luncheon today, with narrative feature and documentary to be announced tomorrow.

Gael García Bernal took the Best Actor in a foreign language film for Neruda, and Isabelle Huppert took Best Actress, foreign film, for Elle.

Today’s awards were named by a special jury of international film critics. The festival kicked off January 2 and runs through January 16. Audience awards for narrative feature and documentary feature will be announced tomorrow.

In choosing Toni Erdmann, the jury noted its “originality, human complexity and unique tonal orchestration that seems natural and uncalculated. It is also an observant look at corporate culture carried by two wonderful performances.”

Bernal’s performance in Neruda was described by the jury as “the heart of the film’s tonal shifts, infusing the historical drama with the very poetry of its subject matter.” Huppert, the jury said, “gives depth and humanity to a complex and conflicted character in a challenging, unorthodox film. Her intelligence, self-assurance, and gift for conveying rich emotional tones have never been more strikingly displayed.”

In addition, the audience awards were announced, with Gus Van Sant’s When We Rise winning the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature, and Take Me Home Huey, directed by Alicia Brauns and Christine Steele winning the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Here’s the complete list of winners announced today (FIPRESCI is the International Federation of Film Critics):

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

The 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
Winner: Mercenary (France), directed by Sacha Wolff

Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: When We Rise (U.S.), directed by Gus Van Sant. From Gus van Sant and Dustin Lance Black, the festival screened the first episode of this stirring seven-part docudrama that charts the progress of Gay Liberation from its early days in San Francisco in the 1960s to its 21st-century triumphs. When We Rise will air on ABC starting February 27. The screening was a North American premiere at the Festival.

Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature: Take Me Home Huey (U.S.), directed by Alicia Brauns and Christine Steele. This moving documentary traces the evolution of Steve Maloney’s eponymous mixed-media sculpture, in which he took a wrecked Huey helicopter and transformed it into a memorial to the men who served and lost their lives in Vietnam. It’s a salutary reminder of the healing power of art. The film was a World Premiere at the Festival.

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