Awards & Jury

Award Winners

FIPRESCI Prize for Best International Film

Saint Omer (France), Directed by Alice Diop

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actor in an International Film

Ali Junejo in Joyland (Pakistan)

For Ali's video statement of acceptance, click HERE

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in an International Film

Oksana Cherkashyna in Klondike (Ukraine)

For Oksana's video statement of acceptance, click HERE

FIPRESCI Prize for Best International Screenplay

Alcarràs (Spain), Screenwriters Carla Simón and Arnau Vilaró

Best Documentary

To Kill a Tiger (Canada), Directed by Nisha Pahuja

For Nisha's video statement of acceptance, click HERE

Special Mention: Butterfly in the Sky (USA), Directed by Bradford Thomason, Brett Whitcomb

Please see below to read Butterfly in the Sky's written statement of acceptance.

Ibero-American Award

Chile ‘76 (Chile), Directed by Manuela Martelli

For Manuela's video statement of acceptance, click HERE

Special Mention: Blanquita (Chile), Directed by Fernando Guzzoni

Please see below to read Blanquita's written statement of acceptance.

New Voices New Visions Award

The Damned Don’t Cry (France), Directed by Fyzal Boulifa

Special Mention: Our Father, the Devil (USA), Directed by Ellie Foumbi

For Ellie's video statement of acceptance, click HERE

Local Jury Award

Liquor Store Dreams (USA), Directed by So Yun Um

For So's video statement of acceptance, click HERE

Special Mention: Mama Bears (USA), Directed by Daresha Kyi

Please see below to read Mama Bears' written statement of acceptance.

Young Cineastes Award

Riceboy Sleeps (Canada), directed by Anthony Shim

For Anthony's video statement of acceptance, click HERE

MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award

Dirty Difficult Dangerous (France), Directed by Wissam Charaf

For Wissam's video statement of acceptance, click HERE

Special Mention: The Happiest Man in the World (North Macedonia), Directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

Argentina, 1985 (Argentina), Directed by Santiago Mitre

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature

Of Medicine and Miracles (USA), Directed by Ross Kauffman



Robert Horton

Robert Horton is a Historian-Programmer in Residence at nonprofit Scarecrow Video archive, instructor at Seattle Film Institute, host of the radio program "The Music and the Movies," and formerly film critic for Seattle Weekly and Film Comment. Fulbright Specialist (Romania), author of books on Frankenstein, Billy Wilder, and co-author of the zombie-western graphic novel Rotten.

Andrew Kendall

Andrew Kendall is the Head of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies at the University of Guyana. He primarily teaches areas of contemporary literature (drama in particular) and film studies in areas of postcolonial thought, gender, and sexuality. He is also a film and cultural critic with specific interest in political cinema and representations of loneliness and isolation in 21st century film. 

Anders Larsson

Anders Larsson is a critic, poet and festival director of Lund Fantastic Film Festival, the oldest genre film festival in Sweden. Musician, film composer and actor. Wrote the score for the Guldbagge-awarded feature film Garden Lane. Member of indie rock trio Slowmotion Club and Americana outfit Alabama Moonshine Co. Solo project: The Sad Highway.


Diana Cadavid

Diana Cadavid is a Colombian/Canadian curator of film and new media, with wide experience in international film festivals. She's currently International Programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) and the Festival Internacional de Cine de Cali (FICCALI). 

Amir George

Amir George is an award winning filmmaker based in Chicago. George is the Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films. As an artist, George creates spiritual stories, juxtaposing sound and image into an experience of non-linear perception. George’s films have screened at institutions and film festivals including Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Anthology Film Archives, Glasgow School of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Trinidad and Tobago International Film Festival, BlackStar Film Festival and Camden International Film Festival, among others. 

Robin Robinson 

Robin Robinson is dedicated to independent film, specializing in documentaries and amplifying emerging voices. Currently a Senior Programmer at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, she has experience curating diverse genres at wide-ranging festivals, including True/False, Nashville Film Festival, and Mountainfilm. 


Manuel Betancourt

Manuel Betancourt is a queer Colombian culture writer. His work's been featured in The New York Times, BuzzFeed Reader, Los Angeles Times, Film Quarterly, and GQ Style. Manuel is the author of the forthcoming book, The Male Gazed: On Hunks Heartthrobs, and What Pop Culture Taught Me About (Desiring) Men.

Trey Shields

Trey Shields has been a programmer for the Philadelphia Film Society and its annual Philadelphia Film Festival for nearly a decade. In addition to the fall festival, he handles the year-round programming at the Philadelphia Film Center featuring 20+ repertoire and contemporary films, local shorts, and a slew of off-the-wall events every single month. 

Rebecca Sun 

Rebecca Sun is senior editor of diversity and inclusion at The Hollywood Reporter, where she oversees equity and representation and hosts the podcast Hollywood Remixed. She previously covered the agency business for THR. In 2019, the nonprofit collective Gold House named her to the A100 list of the most impactful Asians and AAPIs in culture, and her reporting has won both National Arts & Entertainment Journalism and Southern California Journalism awards from the Los Angeles Press Club as well as a GLAAD Media Award nomination. Her bylines have also appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire China, Red Bulletin and New York. Sun serendipitously developed a second career as a sports journalist, having served as an editor for Sportico and as a writer and editor at Sports Illustrated. A native of the Bay Area, she earned a master’s degree in journalism from NYU and a bachelor’s degree in biology and English from Duke University.


Violet Lucca

Violet Lucca is the VP of Digital at Harper’s Magazine and also hosts its podcast. In addition to producing and directing award-winning films, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Criterion, Art in America, Film Comment, Sight & Sound, Caimán Cuadernos de Cine, the Village Voice, and elsewhere.

Monica Trasandes

Monica Trasandes was born in Uruguay and raised in the United States. She has a B.A. in International Relations from U.C. Santa Barbara and an MFA from Emerson College. As the Director of Spanish-Language & Latinx Media & Representation at GLAAD, Monica has created and overseen campaigns and research projects and worked with journalists and writer’s rooms from Miami to Mexico City to Madrid. Monica often appears in Spanish-Language Media as an expert. Monica’s debut novel Broken Like This was published in 2012 (St. Martin’s) and several of her plays have been produced in Los Angeles. She was proud to serve on the Palm Springs International Film Festival jury in 2021. Monica is the lucky co-mommy of a 10-year-old daughter.

Lauren Wissot

Lauren Wissot is a film critic and journalist, filmmaker and programmer, and a contributing editor at both Filmmaker magazine and Documentary magazine. She also writes for Modern Times Review (Europe's documentary magazine) and has served as the director of programming at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.


Randy Florence

Randy an 11 year resident of the Desert. Randy, and his wife, Kay,  moved to La Quinta from the Silicon Valley in Northern California. They have 3 sons and 6 granddaughters. Randy had a 40 year banking career, most recently as the Homebuilder Division Manager for US Bank. After trying to retire, Randy became the CEO of the Palm Desert Chamber. He is a board member for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley and former Chairperson of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP).

Barbara Sisto

Movies, live theater, genealogy, travel, and cooking have always taken priority in my life. I enjoy sharing these experiences with both family and friends. These activities afford me the opportunity to continue to explore and appreciate the cultures of our world and our common humanity. My life is enriched by having a spouse who shares my enthusiasm for film, theater, travel, and raising our pooch, Pepper. And what makes her even more special? She shares my passion for hot buttered popcorn!

Tim Vincent

Tim Vincent is the President of the Board of Directors for Brothers of the Desert, a non-profit organization with a mission to empower Black gay men and allies in the Coachella Valley through education, mentorship, advocacy and social networking. He is also an independent consultant with a focus on health equity responding to medical mistrust. He has created and conducted national trainings for a diverse range of professional providers on topics such as implicit bias, examining the impact of stigma, trauma informed care and motivational interviewing. He is interested in support arts as a means of promoting social justice.

Michelle Webb

Open minded, socially conscious cultural consumer. Live music fan. Devourer of books. Foodie. Human. Mother. Wife. Friend. Nurse who has been forged during the pandemic and thrives on helping others—I’m currently a free agent and looking for a good team to join! Red Cross Volunteer. Do as much good for as many as possible as often as you can.

Emily Alvarez-Zurita

Emily Alvarez-Zurita is from the Coachella Valley and is a current student at California State University San Bernardino, Palm Desert Campus. She will soon receive a B.A. in Business and is interested in incorporating the skills and experiences that she gained from courses such as film critique, fashion design, photography, art, and band to become a film critic in the future and to eventually begin her acting career. Emily is excited to be a part of the local jury and aspires to incorporate these skills with her current and future roles.

MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Jury

Keely Badger

Keely Badger is Executive Director of MOZAIK, a new millennial-led philanthropic organization committed to exploring and modeling new practices in philanthropy with disruptive, creative, and catalytic potential. Based in Los Angeles, CA, Keely leads the foundation’s strategic grantmaking, programs and community engagements, working with a range of nonprofit organizations in the local, national and international advocacy space. As a millennial expert and advocate on international human rights and development issues, Keely pioneers’ durable solutions for underrepresented voices, communities and causes by working to democratize philanthropy through participatory grantmaking praxis.

Bambadjan Bamba

Bambadjan Bamba is an actor, filmmaker, and immigrant rights advocate. He has been featured in numerous hit television shows, including NBC’s The Good Place, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, HBO’s Sopranos and in blockbuster films, Marvel’s Black Panther, DC Comic’s Suicide Squad and the Oscar-nominated Beginners. In 2017, Bambadjan publicly disclosed that he was a recipient of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and has ever since used his inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration. Bambadjan gives talks at college campuses, events, and media outlets around the U.S. His writings have appeared in the Washington Post, on NBC and on CNN, and he is a contributor to the New York Times bestseller American Like Me: Reflections on life between cultures by award-winning actress America Ferrera. Bambadjan is the recipient of ACLU’s Courageous Advocate Award and the NILC (National Immigration Law Center) Courageous Luminary award. He serves as a Define American ambassador and is a board member for the African Artists Association.

Marcy Garriott

Marcy Garriott is an independent documentary filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. An electrical engineer and still photographer coming out of college, she was a telecommunications executive for 15 years before turning to filmmaking and social activism. Her Director/Producer credits include the award-winning documentary films SPLIT DECISION and INSIDE THE CIRCLE. Marcy also produced THE LEAST OF THESE (about immigrant child detention) and the CNN documentary AN UNREAL DREAM: THE MICHAEL MORTON STORY. Most recently she served as an Executive Producer on the documentary films PEACE OFFICER and BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM. Marcy is a former board member and President of the Austin Film Society, and a current Advisory Board member of Cine Las Americas.

Vladek Juszkiewicz

Born in Glasgow, Poland. He graduated from the Szczecin Technical University with a degree in Engineering. While attending the University he became a member of The Szczecin Technical University Choir, serving as a President and manager of the group. His travels with the choir to 18 counties including United States where he visited the White House. When he moved to Warsaw, he became the manager of the Polish international star singer Maryla Rodowicz. After immigrating to the United States, he worked on 11 films with the late Paul Leder. In 1999 he founded the Polish Film Festival Los Angeles and served as a director till 2019. Now is serving as the Festival’s Programmer. Served on the juries of the Los Angeles Hungarian Film Festival, the Los Angeles South East European Film Festival, New York Polish Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival. Awarded by Polish Government with the Cavalier & amp; Officer Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and Gloria Artis for promoting Polish culture abroad.

Granaz Moussavi

Granaz Moussavi was born in Tehran. She started writing professionally as a book review writer and literary critic at the age of 17. Her first poems were published when she was almost 16 years old and since then, her poetry is translated and published in 9 languages while she has presented her poetry in various poetry festivals, seminars, and symposiums including the Paris festival, SOAS, Oxford, Maryland, and Stanford Universities, as well as Mondorf Symposium of Pluralism (Luxembourg 2009) , and Caravan of poetry through France (2004). Her second book, “Barefoot Till Morning” was the winner of best poetry book of the year award in 2001 in Iran and is currently re-published its fourth edition. The Italian translation of her poetry won a prize for best translation in Italy in 2013 (Songs of the Forbidden Woman, ELENCO PREMIATI XIX edition). She has 4 solo translated books in German, Italian, French, and Kurdish. Granaz studied drama in Tehran/Iran 1991-94 and continued her studies in Australia entering a BA course in Screen Studies in 1998; then finished an honors degree in Flinders University in 2002. She is a graduate from Postgraduate degree in film editing from Australian Film School (AFTRS) and in 2013 successfully completed a Doctorate in Film Studies and Filmmaking in University of Western Sydney with a thesis project on the aesthetics of poetic cinema. Granaz’s debut feature film My Tehran For Sale won an Australian IF award for best independent film and was internationally premiered in Toronto film festival. Granaz’s second feature film, When Pomegranates Howl was shot entirely on location in Kabul/Afghanistan and premiered in Tokyo International Film Festival and nominated for best youth film in Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2021.

Bijan Tehrani

Founder and director of I, Immigrant and founder of Cinema Without Borders (CWB) and CineEqual is an award-winning author of children’s books and short films. Tehrani has been a passionate advocate of human rights, which he has actively pursued as a filmmaker, -historian, and -critic over the past five decades. CWB has interviewed and introduced over 2,000 filmmakers from around the globe, most of them champions of social justice and human rights.


FIPRESCI Prize for Best International Film: Saint Omer (France), Directed by Alice Diop

We award the Best Picture Prize to Saint Omer for using the ostensibly narrow framework of a heightened legal docudrama to expertly interrogate issues of society, culture, race, and gender. Alice Diop, as screenwriter and director, delivers a film that explores different dynamics of Black women in contemporary France, drawing empathetic lead performances from Kayije Kagame and Guslagie Malanga (whose characters never interact, save for one momentous glance). By harnessing the skills of her technical team, Diop turns Saint Omer into a shrewd, cogent, ambitious, and overwhelming film which teases a metafictional awareness while remaining clear-eyed and unsentimental.

FIPRESCI Prize for Best International Screenplay: Alcarràs (Spain), Screenwriter Carla Simón, Arnau Vilaró

In its rich harvest of the detail of agricultural life, Alcarràs conveys remarkable authenticity and empathy. Screenwriters Carla Simón and Arnau Vilaró conjure a family portrait of the complex dynamic within a fracturing clan, including the bittersweet sense of generational change (all the more amazing given that the main cast consists of non-professional actors), while also making a political argument that connects the dots of the many intricacies of an economic system that seems rigged against the best efforts of these hard-working people.

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in an International Film: Oksana Cherkashyna in Klondike (Ukraine)

With a strong sense of pacing and spatial movement, in the frequently occurring long takes with ever-so-slow and meticulously subtle camerawork, we award the Best Actress Prize to Oksana Cherkashyna in Klondike for her performance as Irka, a pregnant woman. When the increasing pressures of the surrounding chaos in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 reach her doorstep, Cherkashyna’s portrayal weaves both the physical and psychological, encompassing everything from palpable inner-fears (in the shape of domesticity) to literally giving birth next to a machine gun.

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actor in an International Film: Ali Junejo in Joyland (Pakistan)

We award the Best Actor Prize to Ali Junejo in Joyland for his intimate, thoughtful and nuanced performance as Haider, a man grappling with his diverging sense of self and familial responsibility. Junejo emerges as the film’s most flexible and dependable performance owing to his generosity and earnestness with each cast member, both in behavioral and linguistic choices. His ability to convey the ambivalent paradoxes of Haider, while delivering a performance of such searing clarity and empathy recalibrates the vivid textures of Joyland away from the social realism of its larger goals, turning it into an evocative character study in a performance of quiet complexity.

Best Documentary Award: To Kill a Tiger (Canada), Directed by Nisha Pahuja

Because of its powerful story, rich cinematic approach, and its commitment to the community, the jury has decided to award To Kill a Tiger. The filmmakers sensitivity to the subjects' experience and their poignant capture of shifting tones is a superb use of the genre, resulting in a remarkable story profiling an enduring father-daughter bond exemplifying a social evolution.

Ibero-American Award: Chile ‘76 (Chile), Directed by Manuela Martelli

For capturing the revolution against Pinochet not at the front lines but instead inside the unlikely gilded cage of a privileged woman’s awakening, for showing how the personal is political, with clever cinematic imagery, we award Chile ‘76.

New Voices New Visions Award: The Damned Don’t Cry (France), Directed by Fyzal Boulifa

This film begins with protagonists that are not necessarily sympathetic on a surface level but who we come to at least understand and respect by the end, and not because they’ve changed, but because our perception of them has changed. Instead, we as an audience have been forced to grow and expand our own vision. For these reasons, the jury awards the New Voices New Visions Award to The Damned Don’t Cry by Fyzal Boulifa.

Local Jury Award: Liquor Store Dreams (USA), Directed by So Yun Um

The local jury award is presented to a film that encompasses a spirit of community and neighborliness. We believe that this was best exemplified by the transparent depiction of the complexities and beauty of living and thriving within a historically multicultural community confronting daily social injustices as shown in Liquor Store Dreams by So Yun Um.

Young Cineastes Award: Riceboy Sleeps (Canada), directed by Anthony Shim

The Youth Jury unanimously chose the film, “Riceboy Sleeps” to receive the Young Cineastes Award. We as a jury feel this film encapsulates a beautiful and telling story with attention to detail and realism.

MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award and Special Mention: Watch the jury's video statement HERE

This year our jury received an incredibly competitive submission pool from filmmakers from all corners of the globe and all marks of life. I am proud to present our Honorary Mention this year to a film The Happiest Man in the World directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska with co-production in North Macedonia Belgium Slovenia Denmark Croatia and Bosnia, centering along speed-dating event in the war-torn city of 40-year-old Asje is matched with 43-year-old Zoran. As they participate in the activities, it gradually becomes clear that Zoran is not looking for love, but forgiveness. Ultimately this is a beautiful story of forgiveness and we're honored to present this Honorary Mention to The Happiest Man in the World.

The winner of the 2023 MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award is Dirty Difficult Dangerous directed by Wissam Charaf with co-production in France, Italy, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. A downtrodden Ethiopian maid and a handsome Syrian refugee who subsists on scavenging the streets of Beirut are the unlikely couple at the center of this quirky Lebanese drama that explores difficult circumstances with an unexpectedly light and humorous touch. Congratulations to our winner of the 2023 MOZAIK Bridge the Borders Award,  Dirty Difficult Dangerous

Written Statements of Acceptance

Special Mention: Best Documentary Film: Butterfly in the Sky (USA), Directed by Bradford Thomason, Brett Whitcomb

"It's such an honor to receive a special mention from the jury for Butterfly in the Sky. This is a special film for us because it not only represents an incredibly important part of our childhood, but it also gives us an opportunity to share something positive with audiences. The Palm Springs International Film Festival was a wonderful experience for us and we hope to return in the future!"

Special Mention: Ibero-American Award: Blanquita (Chile), Directed by Fernando Guzzoni

"Thank you very much to the festival for the invitation and for allowing us to share the message of the film with the audience, and thank you to the jury for this mention that fills us with pride. We hope that the film contributes to making visible the impunity with which institutions operate and the structural violence suffered by thousands of children in our countries. Thank you."

Special Mention: Local Jury Award: Mama Bears (USA), Directed by Daresha Kyi

"I'm so grateful to the jury committee of the Palm Springs International Film Society for uplifting the message of unconditional love at the heart of Mama Bears. I was deeply inspired not only by the women in the film, but by the entire mama bear community who are willing to undergo the painful process of radical transformation and risk losing everything they hold dear in order to love, accept and fight for the rights of their children and the entire LGBTQ+ community. Since I stumbled upon them, my goal has been to amplify and spread their message of radical, unconditional love as far and wide as possible and I thank you for recognizing my efforts to do so."

Film Festival 2023