Minh Nguyen-Vo's Vietnamese coming-of-age story Buffalo Boy won the FIPRESCI Award and DominicSavage's hard-hitting UK tale of love across racial divides Love + Hate won the New Voices/New Visions Award atthe 17th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Both titles were directorial debuts and were joined on the winner'spodium by another first film, Breno Silveria's Brazilian hit Two Sons OfFrancisco, which won theJohn Schlesinger Award.
Sharing the audience award were Dan Ireland's UK comedy MrsPalfrey At The Claremont,Klaus Haro's Finnish-Swedish drama Mother Of Mine, and Barbara Willis Sweete's Canadiandocumentary Five Days In September.
The FIPRESCI jury voted theirfavourite from a pool of 47 of this year's foreign language Oscar submissionsplaying in the Awards Buzz section.
The jury awarded the best actor prize to Ion Fiscuteanu for CristiPuiu's Romanian entry The Death Of Mr Lazarescu, and best actress prize to Meltem Cumbulfor Yavuz Turgul's Turkish submission Lovelorn.
Jury members were president Kirill Razlogov (Russia), Henrik UthJensen (Denmark), Gideon Kouts (France), Charles-Stephane Roy (Canada) andRobert Koehler (US).
The New Voices/New Visions category comprised features from 12 newinternational directors whose first or second films represent the best work ofpreviously unheralded talents.
Aside from Savage's win, the jury awarded a special jury prize toRoberto Gervitz for his Brazilian romance Underground Game. The New Voices/New Visions jury memberswere actor Udo Kier, Los Angeles Times writer John Horn and ScreenInternational's Jeremy Kay.
"It's been a hugely successful year for the festival, withrecord-breaking attendance, a rapturous audience and critical response to thefilm programming and the highest box office sales of any festival in thecountry," festival director Darryl Macdonald said.
"More than 400 filmmakingand industry guests attended the event this year, enjoying wall-to-wall screenings,parties and special events, and sponsorships were up dramatically (some 60%higher than last year). In addition, it was the smoothest-running festivalwe've ever had. I think the festival hit its stride this year on all levels,which will only make us set even higher goals for ourselves next year."
The festival opened on Jan 5 with Terrence Malick's The NewWorld and closed withthe US premieres of Mrs Harris on Jan 14 and Wah-Wah a day later. Cloris Leachman received the Chairman's Award forCareer Achievement following the Mrs Harris screening.
As previouslyannounced, festival honorees included David Cronenberg, Terrence Howard,Felicity Huffman, Michael London, Charlize Theron, Shirley MacLaine, and ThomasNewman.