UPDATED JAN 12: Lakshmi wins narrative audience award; Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia earns doc honours.

Top brass at the Palm Springs International Film Festival announced on January 12 that Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi (India) had been awarded the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. 

Meanwhile Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia (US) directed by Nicholas Wrathall won the audience award for best documentary feature. 

In the juried awards announced on January 11, Felix van Groeningen’s shortlisted Belgian foreign language Oscar contender The Broken Circle Breakdown won the FIPRESCI Prize for best foreign language film of the year at the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival on January 11.

Mads Mikkelsen of Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar shortlisted Danish feature The Hunt won the FIPRESCI Prize for the best actor of the year in a foreign language film, while Bérénice Bejo took the corresponding actress honour for Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian Oscar submission The Past.

Andrea Pallaoro prevailed in the New Voices/New Visions contest for his US film Medeas and a special mention went to Left Foot Right Foot (Switzerland), by Germinal Roaux. 

The Cine Latino Award was presented to two films: Amat Escalante’s Heli (Mexico) and David Trueba’s Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed (Spain). Sebastian Lelio’s Colombian film Gloria earned a special mention.

The John Schlesinger Award for a first-time documentary film-maker/s went to John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s Finding Vivian Maier (US), while the HP Bridging The Borders Award went to Andrzej Wajda’s Polish foreign language Oscar submission Walesa. Man Of Hope.

The Cinema Without Borders Special Jury Award went to Plot For Peace (South Africa) by Carlos Agulló and Mandy Jacobson. 

“It’s been a tremendous 25th anniversary year for the festival, capped by record numbers of both film-goers and film-makers attending,” said festival director Darryl Macdonald. 

“But the real stand-out has been the overall excellence of the films in this year’s festival line-up, proving that the phenomenally strong year we’ve witnessed in Hollywood film-making has been more than matched by the strong upswing in quality film-making worldwide. I wish we could provide awards to all of the film-makers at this year’s event – their work certainly merits it.”

“The juries’ selections cover a range of high art and populism,” said artistic director Helen du Toit. “It is especially interesting to see how many of their top choices echo the passion of the audiences’ top picks. 

“International Cinema is not just alive and well, but positively thriving. It is my greatest hope that US distributors will find ways of bringing these success stories to a wider audience who is clearly eager for fresh voices.”

Audience Award winners will be announced on January 12. The festival runs through January 13 and screens 191 films from 60 countries, including 46 of the 76 foreign language submissions.