Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sean Penn to receive Desert Palm Achievement Award at 20th Annual PSIFF Awards Gala

New York special screening of Milk
Dave Allocca/

Marking a Festival first, Academy Award® winner Sean Penn will be honored two years in a row at the 20th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) Awards Gala on Tuesday, January 6, 2009. Penn will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting, after being presented last year with the Director of the Year Award for Into the Wild. Past honorees of the Desert Palm Achievement Award include Daniel Day-Lewis, Jake Gyllenhaal, Liam Neeson, Nicolas Cage, John Travolta, Richard Dreyfuss and James Stewart.

Festival chairman Harold Matzner said, "The Palm Springs International Film Festival is honored to award Sean Penn the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting. Penn's portrayal of Harvey Milk is one of the greatest acting performances of 2008 and has been recognized by film critics across the country. I think it is deserving of an Oscar nomination."

Penn stars in the critically acclaimed Milk, which 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, directed by Gus Van Sant also stars Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, and James Franco. Penn has received a Golden Globe and SAG acting nomination for his performance in the film.

New York Premiere of Focus Features' MILK
WireImage Video

Penn has become an American film icon in a career spanning nearly three decades. He has been nominated four times for the Academy Award as Best Actor: in Dead Man Walking, Sweet and Lowdown, I Am Sam and most recently won the Oscar in 2003 for his searing performance in Clint Eastwood's Mystic River.

Presented by Cartier and hosted by "Entertainment Tonight's" Mary Hart, the Festival's annual Awards Gala, will honor previously announced honorees Clint Eastwood with the Career Achievement Award, Ron Howard with the Director's Lifetime Achievement Award, Dustin Hoffman with the Chairman's Award, Revolutionary Road with the Ensemble Performance Award, Anne Hathaway with the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting, Amy Adams with the Spotlight Award, Dakota Fanning with the Rising Star Award, Gus Van Sant with the Sonny Bono Visionary Award and Alexandre Desplat with the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing.

PSIFF, founded in 1990 by then Mayor Sonny Bono, is scheduled from 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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