Monday, December 22, 2008


The 20th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will present Academy Award® winner Dustin Hoffman with the Chairman’s Award, Academy Award® nominee Gus Van Sant with the Sonny Bono Visionary Award and Academy Award® nominee Alexandre Desplat with the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing.

Presented by Cartier, the Awards Gala will kick-off the 2009 Awards Season on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at the Palm Springs Convention Center and will be hosted by “Entertainment Tonight’s” Mary Hart. The Festival runs January 6-19, 2009.

Festival chairman Harold Matzner commented, “We are honored to present awards to Dustin Hoffman, Gus Van Sant and Alexandre Desplat at this year’s event. These talented men deliver some of their finest work in their current projects and we are proud to celebrate their unparalleled achievements that have made an everlasting impression on the face of cinema.”

Hoffman will receive the Chairman’s Award. The past recipient of the award is Nicole Kidman. Hoffman currently stars in Last Chance Harvey, which will open the Festival on January 8, 2009. The film is a love story set in London, written and directed by Joel Hopkins, and co-starring Emma Thompson. Last Chance Harvey will be released by Overture Films on December 25, 2008. Hoffman recently received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical category for his role.

A two-time Academy Award® winner and seven-time nominee whose arrival in Hollywood helped usher in a new and revitalized approach to filmmaking, Dustin Hoffman continues to add singular performances to a career rich with characters that have obliterated the line previously dividing the archetypes of “character actor” and “leading man.” Hoffman caught the world's attention for his role as Benjamin Braddock in Mike Nichol's Academy Award® nominated film, The Graduate. Since then, he has been nominated for six more Academy Awards® for diverse films such as Midnight Cowboy, Lenny, Tootsie (a film he also produced through his company, Punch Productions), and Wag the Dog. Hoffman won the Oscar in 1979 for his role in Kramer Vs. Kramer and again in 1988 for Rain Man.

Hoffman lends his voice to the animated feature, The Tale of Despereaux for Universal Pictures which will be released on December 19, 2008. The Tale of Despereaux is adapted from Kate DiCamillo's children's book and co-stars Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Tracy Ullman, Robbie Coltraine and Justin Long.

His other film credits include: Kung Fu Panda, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Stranger Than Fiction, Perfume, Meet the Fockers, Finding Neverland, I Heart Huckabee’s, The Lost City, Racing Stripes, Runaway Jury, Little Big Man, Straw Dogs, Papillon, All the President's Men, Marathon Man, Straight Time, Agatha, Ishtar, Dick Tracy, Billy Bathgate, Mad City, Hero, Sleepers, Sphere, American Buffalo, Hook and Outbreak.

Gus Van Sant will receive the Sonny Bono Visionary Award, named after the founder of the Festival. Past recipients include David Cronenberg, Todd Field, Baz Lurhmann, M. Night Shyamalan and Kevin Spacey. Van Sant’s acclaimed current film Milk tells the story of Harvey Milk, who in 1977 was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans. The Focus Features film stars Academy Award winner Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, and James Franco.

Audiences and critics alike have taken note of Gus Van Sant’s movies since he made his feature film directorial debut in 1985 with Mala Noche, which won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for Best Independent/Experimental Film. His body of work also includes Drugstore Cowboy, starring Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch; My Own Private Idaho, starring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, starring Uma Thurman; and To Die For. The latter, screened at the Cannes and Toronto International Film Festivals, earned Nicole Kidman a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

Van Sant’s next feature, Good Will Hunting, brought him a Best Director Academy Award® nomination. The film was nominated for eight other Oscars including Best Picture, winning for Best Supporting Actor (Robin Williams) and Best Original Screenplay (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon). He followed that up with his controversial remake of Psycho, which was the first feature shot-for-shot recreation of a film, and Finding Forrester before returning to his independent film roots with Gerry. That filmmaking experience in turn inspired him to write and direct Elephant, shot on location in his hometown of Portland with a cast of novice actors. Elephant won both the top prize (the Palme d’Or) and the Best Director award at the 2003 Cannes International Film Festival.

At the 2005 Cannes International Film Festival, Last Days, starring Michael Pitt and Lukas Haas, was honored with the Technical Grand Prize (for Leslie Shatz’ sound design). Van Sant once again cast novice actors to star in his next project, Paranoid Park, which he adapted from Blake Nelson’s novel of the same name. The film earned him the 60th Anniversary Prize at the 2007 Cannes International Film Festival.

Alexandre Desplat will receive the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing. Previous participants of the award include James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, Phillip Glass, Howard Shore and Randy Newman. Desplat provides the score for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, adapted by Eric Roth, from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards: a man, like any of us, who is unable to stop time. We follow his epic story, set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man's life can be. The Paramount Pictures release directed by David Fincher, and starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton and Taraji P. Henson, opens on December 25, 2008.

In January 2007, Alexandre Desplat won the Golden Globe Award for his score of John Curran's The Painted Veil, and in the same year received an Academy Award® nomination for his score to Stephen Frears’ The Queen. Both scores earned him the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's Best Music award.

Desplat has composed music for over four dozen European films, earning two César (France's equivalent of the Oscar) Award nominations, for Jacques Audiard's Un héros très discret (A Self-Made Hero) and Sur mes lèvres (Read My Lips). Desplat won the César and Berlin’s Silver Bear for scoring Audiard's most recent film, De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped).

Desplat wrote the score for Peter Webber's Girl with a Pearl Earring which earned him Golden Globe, BAFTA, and European Film Award nominations. Recent works include the Golden Globe nominated score for Stephen Gaghan’s political drama Syriana, the award-winning score to Ang Lee’s World War II romantic drama Lust, Caution, and the Chris Weitz adventure/fantasy The Golden Compass. Upcoming movies include Nora Ephron’s Julie & Jolia, Stephen Frear’s Cheri and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.

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The Festival’s annual Awards Gala, on Tuesday, January 6, 2009, presented by Cartier and hosted by “Entertainment Tonight’s” Mary Hart, will honor Clint Eastwood with the Career Achievement Award, Ron Howard with the Director’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Revolutionary Road with the Ensemble Performance Award, Anne Hathaway with the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting, Amy Adams with the Spotlight Award and Dakota Fanning with the Rising Star Award.

PSIFF, founded in 1990 by then Mayor Sonny Bono, runs January 6-19, 2009, screening 210 films from 73 countries. The Festival presents a majority of the films submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Language category for the Academy Awards, as well as a large number of American independent and international features and documentaries marking their world, North American or U.S. debuts.

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