'Found Me' finds favor at Palm Springs fest


"Then She Found Me," the comedy-drama about a woman in the midst of a midlife crisis directed, co-written and starring Helen Hunt, earned the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for best narrative feature at the 19th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Tricia Regan's "Autism: The Musical," which follows a group of autistic children putting on a show, took the audience award for best documentary feature.

Winners at the festival, which concludes Monday, were announced Sunday at Spencer's Restaurant in Palm Springs.

A jury of international critics, who viewed 55 of the 63 films submitted for the foreign-langauge film Academy Award, voted the FIPRESCI Award for foreign-language film to Ognjen Svilicic's "Armin," from Croatia, about a small-town father and son trying to maintain their dignity in the big city.

Song Gang-ho received the FIPRESCI Best Actor Award for his performance in Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine," while Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu were co-awarded the FIPRESCI Award Best Actress prize for their work in Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days."

In the New Voices/New Visions program, featuring first or second films from 10 international directors, the jury singled out Ann-Kristen Reyels' "Hounds," a German coming-of-age story.

Salvatore Maira's "The Waltz" earned a special jury mention, while Enrique Begne's "Two Embraces" earned a special jury mention for Frederico Barbarosa's cinematography.

Nadav Schirman received the John Schlesinger Award for Outstanding First Feature (Narrative or Documentary) for his docu "The Champagne Spy," which centers on a 12-year-old boy who discovers that his father is a Mossad spy.

The Heineken Red Star Award was presented to Nic Balthazar for "Ben X."

The Israeli film "The Band's Visit," directed by Eran Kolirin, received the Bridging the Borders Award, presented by Cinema Without Borders to the film that is "most successful in bringing the people of our world closer together."

The festival, which began Jan. 3, screened 212 films, including 65 premieres, from 66 countries. According to festival chairman Earl Greenburg, for the first time in the fest's history receipts from both film ticket sales and the awards gala exceeded $1 million apiece.

Runners-up for the audience narrative film award were "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation," "Late Bloomers," "Red Like the Sky," "How About You," "Band's Visit," "Shake Hands With the Devil," "The Counterfeiters," "Children of Glory," "Noodle," and "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days."

In the competition for docu audience favorite, the runners-up were "Body of War," "Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer," "Call Me Troy," "War/Dance," "As Seen Through These Eyes," "Please Vote for Me," "The Business of Being Born," "Hats Off," "The Pixar Story" and "Angels in the Dust."