By Aditi Patwardhan. Posted on January 11, 2016
Prashant Nair's Sundance winner Umrika has bagged the the HP Bridging the Borders Award at the 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, for bringing people from different cultures together. Raam Reddy's debut feature, the Locarno winner Thithi received Special Jury Mention in the 'The New Voices/New Visions' competition section at the festival. The festival, which run from 1st to 11th January 2016, screened over 180 films from 60 countries, including 40 of the 80 foreign language entries for this year’s Oscars.
Starring Suraj Sharma of Life of Pi fame in the lead, Umrika narrates a mysterious tale about two brothers. The elder brother from a small village in India emigrates to America and communicates with his family through letters. When one day the letters stop arriving, the younger brother embarks on a eventful journey to find his older brother. Nair accepted the award, expressing that the award proved that the film had achieved its desired effect. "We made the film with the intention of having an impact," he said.
The jury commended Reddy for taking his audience on a happily rambling journey, weaving a complex and layered narrative into an inviting film whose structure mirrors the content of the story. Thithi has won wide acclaim across the globe, winning the Golden Leopard and Swatch First Feature Award at this years' Locarno Film Festival. Shot in the Mandya district of Karnataka, the dramatic comedy is about how three generations of sons react to the death of Century Gowda, their great grandfather, who is a locally renowned cranky 101-year-old man.
Apart from Thithi and Umrika, 3 other Indian films showcased at the festival this year, including Masaan, Parched and Zubaan.
The Belgian-French production Death By Death, directed by Xavier Seron won the New Voices/New Visions competition, which showcased 12 films from international directors making their feature debut at the festival. The film narrates the story of the relationship of anxious, part-time actor Michel to his ailing, overly attached mother. The jury 'lauded this Belgian dark comedy for its humor and unique, unexpected approach to narrative storytelling that pushes form and structure within a story that follows themes that are common to many films.'
The Audience Awards were presented to the films Labyrinth of Lies (Germany), directed by Giulio Ricciarelli, the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. The film is based on a real story that exposed the conspiracy of prominent German institutions and government branches to cover up the crimes of Nazis during World War II. Everything is Copy (USA) directed by Jacob Bernstein and Nick Hooker, received the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. This tribute to director Jacob Bernstein’s mother, the sparkling but caustically witty Nora Ephron, the versatile filmmaker, screenwriter, novelist, essayist and reporter.
The FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year was given to the Taiwanese film The Assassin, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien. The FIPRESCI Prize for the Best Actor of the Year in a Foreign Language Film went to Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson from Rams (Iceland), directed by Grimur Hakonarson, while the Best Actress of the Year in a Foreign Language Film was Alena Mihulová for her work in Home Care (Czech Republic), directed by Slávek Horák. The John Schlesinger Award, which is given to a first-time documentary filmmaker, was presented to Erik Shirai for his Japanese documentary The Birth of Saké.