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Palm Springs Fest Winners: 'Starbuck,' 'The Girls in the Band,' 'Wish Me Away'

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood January 15, 2012 at 5:06PM

The Palm Springs International Film Festival announced this year's award winners today, chosen from a pool of 188 films from 73 countries.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival announced this year's award winners today, chosen from a pool of 188 films from 73 countries.

"Starbuck," a Canadian comedy directed by Ken Scott about a class action suit brought by the 142 children of a particularly generous sperm donor, won the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.  Belgium's "Come As You Are," directed by Geoffrey Enthoven, was the runner-up.

Two American films shared the award for Best Documentary Feature: Judy Chaikin's "The Girls in the Band," about the untold history of female jazz musicians, and "Wish Me Away," directed by Bobbi Birleffii and Bevery Kopf, an examination of the life of the singer-songwriter Chely Wright, who recently came out as a lesbian.

In audition to the audience awards, the festival's international jury chose "The Turin Horse," a Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr (and an entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar) to receive the FIPRESCI Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.  Actor Matthias Schoenaerts receieved the FIPRESCI Award for Best Actor for "Bullhead," the Belgian Oscar submission, and the ensemble female cast of Iran's Oscar entry "A Separation" received the FIPRESCI Award for Best Actress.

The festival's New Voices/New Visions award, given to a filmmaker for their first feature film, went to Zuzana Liová for her film "The House," from the Slovak Republic.  Mexico's "The Tiniest Place," a documentary directed by Tatiana Huezo Sanchez about a rural town in El Salvador built up by its residents from the ashes of civil war, won the John Schlesinger Award for best debut documentary.  "Terraferma," an Italian film by Emanuele Crialese, received the HP Brigding the Borders Award, for which the prize includes an HP mobile workstation and computer display.

The Palm Springs Best of the Fest screenings will take place on Monday, Janary 16; a full list of screenings can be found here.

This article is related to: Festivals, Festivals, Awards, Awards, Independents

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.