"The Sapphires" Wins Audience Award at Palm Springs Film Fest

The Sapphires film still - H

Ramona S. Diaz' "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" takes the audience award for documentary feature.

Wayne Blair’s The Sapphires, the true-life story of an all-girl Aboriginal singing group in 1960s Australia, was voted the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 24th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, which concludes Monday. 

The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Ramona S. Diaz’ Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, which recounts how Arnel Pineda was discovered on YouTube and chosen to become the front man for Journey.

The FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, selected by a jury that viewed 42 of the 71 movies submitted for this year’s foreign-language film Academy Award, was presented to Fill the Void, directed by Rama Burshtein, “for portraying a culture usually depicted in stereotypical terms, with subtlety, sympathy and sensuality and employing a style that is intimate, but not intrusive.”  In the film, an 18-year-old in Tel Aviv’s Hassidic community must choose between her heart’s desire and familial duty.

For the first time this year, the festival handed out the Cine Latino Award, which went to Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves, which served as the festival’s opening night film. “A great homage to cinema and storytelling, Blancanieves has reinvented a fairy tale, enhanced it with superb performances, rich in characters of all dimensions to create a tapestry of Spanish society in which faith and fascism vie for control,” the jury said of the film which retells the Snow White story as a silent film about the daughter of a famous bullfighter.

The festival, which began Jan. 3, screened 182 films from 68 countries.

“I couldn't be more delighted that our juries selected so many films by debuting and emerging directors for honors, in addition to the films they singled out from established filmmakers at this year's event,” festival director Darryl Macdonald said. 

“This is a great day for IberoAmerican cinema,” artistic director Helen du Toit said.  “I was delighted that Pablo Berger's magnificent film Blancanieves was selected to receive our inaugural Cine Latino Award. This is Pablo’s third time at PSIFF and the third time he has won a prize.  In fact, this has been an extraordinary year for Cine Latino cinema at the Festival with new Argentinean director Dario Nardi, winning the Cine Latino award special mention for Sadourni’s Butterflies and the New Voices/New Visions jurors selecting Peru's The Cleaner followed by Paraguay's 7 Boxes.”

The complete list of award winners follows:

Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

The Sapphires (Australia)


Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature

Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey(USA)


FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Fill the Void (Israel)


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

Cosimo Rega, Salvatore Striano and Giovanni Arcuri from Caesar Must Die (Italy)


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

Emilie Dequenne fromOur Children(Belgium)


New Voices/New Visions Award

The Cleaner(Peru) - Winner

7 Boxes(Paraguay) – Honorable Mention


Cine Latino Award

Blancanieves (Spain) – Winner

Sadourni’s Butterflies(Argentina) – Honorable Mention


The John Schlesinger Award

Stolen Seas(Somalia/Kenya/UK/Italy) – Winner

Far Out Isn’t Fair Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story(USA) – Honorable Mention


HP Bridging the Borders Award

Jump(Ireland/UK) – Winner

When Day Breaks(Serbia/Croatia/France) – Honorable Mention