'The Assassin' Named Best Foreign Language Film at Palm Springs Film Festival

'The Assassin'

Hou Hsiao-hsien's martial-arts film wins FIPRESCI Prize.

Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin took the top jury prize for best foreign language film of the year at the 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. Winners were announced Saturday at a luncheon at Spencer’s Restaurant in Palm Springs. The festi, which runs through Jan. 11, screened 40 of the 80 foreign-language entries for this year’s Academy Award.

The Assassin was Taiwan’s submission for Oscar consideration, but, although a critical favorite, the martial-arts movie did not make the shortlist of nine features, announced Dec. 17, from which the five nominees, which will be unveiled Jan. 14, will be chosen.

The jury that awarded The Assassin the FIPRESCI prize for best foreign-language film of the year hailed it “as one of the best films of a master director, and an example of the martial arts genre which is elevated into the realm of art by its superb visual style.”

Top acting honors went to actors Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson for Grimur Hakonarson’s Rams, Iceland’s Oscar submission, and actress Alena Mihulova for Home Care from the Czech Republic.

Winner of the New Voices/New Visions Award, given to an international talent making a feature debut at the festival, was Xavier Seron’s Death By Death, a Belgium/France co-production. The John Schlesinger Award, presented to a first-time documentary filmmaker, was presented to Erik Shirai’s The Birth of Saké from Japan.

The event’s Bridging the Borders Award, which honors a film that brings people of the world closer together, was given to Prashant Nair’s Umrika from India. 

Audience Award winners will be announced Jan. 10.

The complete list of award winners follows:

Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature



Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature



FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

The Assassin (Taiwan), directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien


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

Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíussonfrom Rams (Iceland)


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

Alena Mihulová from Home Care (Czech Republic)


New Voices/New Visions Award

Winner: Death By Death (Belgium/France), directed by Xavier Seron

Special Mention: Thithi (India/US), directed by Raam Reddy 


The John Schlesinger Award

The Birth of Saké (Japan), directed by Erik Shirai


HP Bridging the Borders Award

Umrika (India), directed by Prashant Nair