Belgium's 'The Broken Circle Breakdown' Takes Top Prize at Palm Springs Festival

UPDATED: Audience awards go to Nagesh Kukunoor's "Lakshmi" and Nicholas Wrathall's "Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia."

Felix van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium’s entry which has been shortlisted for the best foreign-language Oscar, was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize for best foreign-language film of the year at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which runs through Jan. 13.

The festival handed out its jury prizes today at a luncheon at Spencer’s restaurant in Palm Springs. The FIPRESCI Prize for the best actor of the year in a foreign-language film went to Mads Mikkelsen for his performance in Denmark’s The Hunt, another of this year’s short-listed foreign films. Bérénice Bejo received the FIPRESCI Prize for best actress of the year in a foreign-language film for her performance in Iran’s The Past.

Nagesh Kukunoor's Lakshmi, the story of a 13-year old girl kidnapped and sold into prostitution, was voted the Mercendez-Benz Audience Award for best narrative feature by the festival-goers. Nicholas Wrathall's Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia scored the audience award for documentary feature.

The festival is screening 191 films, including 46 of this year’s 76 foreign-language submissions. 

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“The juries' selections cover a range of high art and populism,” said the festival’s 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 U.S. distributors will find ways of bringing these success stories to a wider audience who is clearly eager for fresh voices.”

The festival’s New Voices/New Visions Award, given to a new international talent, was awarded to Andrea Pallaoro for Medeas, a film about adultery. A special mention was given to Germinal Roaux’s Left Foot Right Foot, from Switerzerland.

Two films received the Cine Latino Award: Amat Escalante’s Heli, from Mexico, and David Trueba’s Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed, from Spain. Special Mention went to Sebastian Lelio’s Gloria, from Chile.

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The John Schlesinger Award, given to a first-time documentary filmmaker, was given to John Maloof and Charlie Siskel for Finding Vivian Maier, about the photographer of the same name.

Andrzej Wajda received the HP Bridging the Borders Award for his film Walesa, Man of Hope, from Poland.

 A complete list of  winners follows:

Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

Lakshmi (India) directed by Nagesh Kukonoor

Runners-up in alphabetical order: Belle (United Kingdom), The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belium/The Netherlands), Burning Bush (Czech Republic), Generation War (Germany), The Keeper of Los Causes (Denmark), Love and Lemons (Sweden/Norway), Tangerines (Estonia/Georgia), Two Lives (Germany/Norway), The Verdict (Belgium), Words and Pictures (USA)

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia (USA) directed by Nicholas Wrathall

Runners-up in alphabetical order: Finding Vivian Maier (USA), Monk With a Camera (USA), Plot for Peace (South Africa, Spain), The Square (Egypt/USA), Two: The Story of Roman and Nyro (USA).

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign-Language Film of the Year

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), directed by Felix van Groeningen

FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign-Language Film

Mads Mikkelsen from The Hunt (Denmark), directed by Thomas Vinterberg

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign-Language Film

Bérénice Bejo fromThe Past (Iran), directed by Asghar Farhadi

New Voices/New Visions Award

Medeas (USA), directed by Andrea Pallaoro -- Winner

Left Foot Right Foot (Switzerland), directed by Germinal Roaux -- Special Mention

Cine Latino Award

Heli (Mexico), directed by Amat Escalante and Living is Easy With Eyes Closed (Spain), directed by David Trueba -- Winner

Gloria (Chile), directed by Sebastian Lelio -- Special Mention

The John Schlesinger Award

Finding Vivian Maier (USA), directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel -- Winner

HP Bridging the Borders Award

Walesa. Man of Hope (Poland), directed by Andrzej Wajda -- Winner

Plot for Peace (South Africa), directed by Carlos Agulló and Mandy Jacobson -- Special Jury Award