- - Monday, January 16, 2017

Screening 190 films from 72 countries, the 28th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, attracting more than 136,000 attendees, wrapped up its two-week festival today, after announcing this year’s award winners over the weekend.

“I love being here,” said Nicole Kidman, who received the International Star Award for the drama “Lion.”

Miss Kidman recalled being at the same festival with her father in 2005, when she was then-newly single.

“He held my hand as we walked up the red carpet,” she said. “And even though [he died in 2014] a lot of great things have happened in my life in the last 12 years. I met the love of my life [singer Keith Urban], and I grew my family with him.”

Miss Kidman’s “Lion” co-star, Dev Patel, presented the veteran actress with her award.

“Along with Ugg boots, latex gloves and vegemite, Nicole Kidman is truly one of Australia’s greatest exports,” Mr. Patel joked of the actress’ native land.

While receiving the Vanguard Award for the musical “La La Land,” star Ryan Gosling paid tribute to the late Debbie Reynolds, who died Dec. 28, just one day after her own daughter, Carrie Fisher, died following a heart attack.

“I wish I could’ve said this in person, but I’d like to thank Debbie Reynolds for her wonderful career of work,” Mr. Gosling said. “We watched ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ every day for inspiration, and she was truly an unparalleled talent.”

Also honored at the festival’s Film Awards Gala were Andrew Garfield, who received the Spotlight Award for his role in Mel Gibson’s war drama “Hacksaw Ridge,” and Natalie Portman, presented the Desert Palm Achievement Award for her memorable portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy in “Jackie.”

The Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for best narrative feature went to “When We Rise,” the gay liberation docudrama from director Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black. The seven-part series will air on ABC next month.

The Palm Springs Film Festival is a remarkably good indicator of Oscar nominations, boasted festival Chairman Harold Matzner, saying that 38 of the 42 PSFF honorees over the past four years went on to Oscar nods.

French actress Isabelle Huppert picked up the FIPRESCI prize for best actress in a foreign-language film for “Elle,” which recently picked up two Golden Globes for best foreign language film and best actress in a drama for Miss Huppert.

The glitzy film confab was not without controversy, however. Earlier this month a lawsuit against the festival and its chairman was brought by its former acting director, Helen du Toit. According to The Desert Sun, Ms. du Toit claimed the festival offered her half the salary of her male predecessor, Darryl Macdonald, then fired her when she objected. Ms. du Toit’s lawsuit also alleges age discrimination and sexism, according to The Sun, as Mr. Matzner publicly praised new Artistic Director Michael Lerman for being “only 35” and having “already accomplished so much at that age.”

 


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