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Palm Springs International Film Festival 2014

The Broken Circle Breakdown.
"The Broken Circle Breakdown"

The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) looked better than ever. Positioned as the first major film event of the new year, and recognized as a pivotal venue in the annual awards season push, the festival — situated in this normally sleepy desert town two hours drive from Los Angeles — opened with a star-studded round of gala fetes and honorary awards. The Palm Springs Film Society began the festival the weekend before the Golden Globes, and Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Matthew McConaughey, Bono and U2 all showed up for the occasion. American movie hero Bruce Dern received a lifetime achievement prize and the cast of David O. Russell's American Hustle took the Ensemble Performance Award.

The PSIFF offered an ambitious program of Academy Award's foreign language submissions. This year, that meant culling from among a record 76 titles from 76 countries, giving festivalgoers the chance to see 46 of the films. The lineup included festival darlings, audience favorites, dark horses and unique artistic world pieces. Numerous directors dropped into town to present their films, including Italian Paolo Sorrentino (to welcome his audience at the High School screening of The Great Beauty, before heading off to the Golden Globes ceremony), Belgian Felix Van Groeningen (who unfortunately left before receiving our jury's Best Film FIPRESCI prize for The Broken Circle Breakdown), and Singapore's Anthony Chen (representing his multi-award winner Ilo Ilo). It was great to see that remarkable pieces were made not just in Europe, but from all around the world — enough to mention Cambodia (The Missing Picture), Singapore (Ilo Ilo), Iran (The Past) and Chile (Gloria).

Palm Springs once again proved to be the place to celebrate international filmmaking, and the festival struck just the right balance, presenting A-list Hollywood stars  and smaller, more esoteric entries from the far side of the world. And between screenings, audiences and visiting filmmakers and stars alike could enjoy the 25 Celsius winter weather and all the unique desert flora and fauna (our American colleague, Alissa Simon, even organized a trip to the Indian Canyon outside the city). Leisure, pleasure and plenty of movies — perfect! (György Kárpáti)

Palm Springs (PSIFF — Palm Springs International Film Festival, USA, January 3-13, 2014). The jury presented the "International Critics' Prize (FIPRESCI Prize) for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year (2013)" as well as prizes for the best actor and actress.
   Prize for the best film: The Broken Circle Breakdown directed by Felix Van Groeningen (Belgium, 2012, 111 mins). Print Source: The Match Factory, Balthasarstr 79-81, Cologne 50670, Germany, T +49 22 15 39 70 90, Fax +49 22 15 39 70 910,, Motivation: "A country song of a film - with all the love, pain, tragedy, and headache life can throw at you. A testament to the human spirit and how we can endure almost anything as long as there is even a sliver of hope or faith. Set in the tiny country of Belgium, a very personal story mirroring the ultimate decline of the American dream."
   Prize for the best actor: Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt (Jagten) directed by Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark, 2013, 115 mins). Print Source: TrustNordisk, Filmbyen 28, Hvidovre DK-2650, Denmark, T +45 36 86 87 88, Fax +45 36 86 87 50,, Motivation: "Mads Mikkelsen's powerful yet minimalist performance in Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt (Jagten), as a school teacher wrongly cast out by his community, brings exceptional depth and dimension to bear on an enigmatic figure. The actor finds the humanity, and the contradictions, in his character, bringing a sense of balance and honesty to a tale riddled with injustice and lies."
   Prize for the best actress: Bérénice Bejo in The Past (Le Passé) directed by Asghar Farhadi (Italy, France, 2013, 130 mins). Print Source: Memento Films, 9 Cité Paradis, Paris 75010, France, T + 33 1 53 34 90 33, Fax +33 1 42 47 11 24,, Motivation: "Bérénice Bejo's portrait of a woman in profound transition, struggling to close the door on one relationship, trying to keep the other open, offers a symphony of emotions: regret, longing, love, hurt, need. Her character may waver, but Bejo's performance stays straight and true."
   Jury: György Kárpáti, Hungary ("Magyar Nemzet"), Karsten Kastelan, Germany ("The Hollywood Reporter"), Steven Rea, USA ("The Philadelphia Inquirer"). Festival:


Rites of Passage Gone Terribly Wrong. Forty-six foreign language films — their respective country of origin's official submissions for 2014 Academy Award consideration — screened in Palm Springs last week, greeted by long lines of festivalgoers, ducking in from the desert  sun and cool nights to find dark, troubling, inspired stories from around the globe. And if one theme emerged from this wildly diverse and mostly accomplished lot, it was of rites of passage gone terribly wrong. Steven Rea's report. arrow.
Bluegrass in Belgium. The Broken Circle Breakdown quickly starts us off on such a course, as it wastes no time to introduce us to Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise (VeerleBaetens) in what will become a turning point in their lives. They have come to the hospital with their daughter Maybelle (Nell Cattrysse), just to find out that the 6-year-old has cancer. Karsten Kastelan's review. arrow.
Lies Damn Lies: The Fear Inside Us. György Kárpáti reviewed The Hunt (Jagten) directed by Thomas Vinterberg. arrow.



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Palm Springs 2014

bullet. Index
bullet. Rites of Passage
bullet. Bluegrass in Belgium
bullet. Lies Damn Lies

Language editor:
Steven Rea