best narrative feature

Palm Springs Film Fest: 'Toni Erdmann' Named Best Foreign-Language Film; 'When We Rise' Wins Audience Award

Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, Germany’s submission for the foreign-language film Academy Award, won the FIPRESCI Prize for best foreign-language film of the year, awarded by a jury of international film critics, at the 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. The fest, which runs through Monday, announced on Saturday its juried award winners at a luncheon at the Hilton Palm Springs.

The FIPRESCI Prize for best actor went to Gael Garcia Bernal for his performance in Pablo Larrain’s Neruda, and the prize for best actress went to Isabelle Huppert for her star turn in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle. Neruda also won the fest’s Cine Latino Award.

The pilot episode (written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Gus Van Sant) of When We Rise, the upcoming ABC miniseries about the gay rights movement, was the winner of the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature, which was announced Sunday. The documentary audience award prize went to Alicia Brauns and Christine Steele’s Take Me Home Huey about the creation of Steve Maloney’s mixed-media sculpture which turned a Huey helicopter into into a Vietnam War memorial.

Deepak Rauniyar’s White Sun, a dark comedy about two brothers on either side of the Nepalese civil war, won the fest’s New Voices/New Visions Award.

The John Schlesinger Award, presented to a director of a first or second feature documentary, was awarded to Cristina Herrera Borquez for No Dress Code Required, which looks at a same-sex couple as they fight for the right to marry in their hometown of Mexicali, Baja California.

And The HP Bridging the Borders Award was given to Sacha Wolff’s Mercenary, which focuses on a Polynesian rugby player recruited to play on a French team.

Jan. 15, 7:15 p.m.: Updated to include audience award winners.

The complete list of award winners follows:

Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

When We Rise (U.S.), directed by Gus Van Sant.

Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature

Take Me Home Huey (U.S.), directed by Alicia Brauns and Christine Steele

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign-Language Film of the Year

Toni Erdmann (Germany), directed by Maren Ade

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actor in a Foreign-Language Film

Gael García Bernal in Neruda (Chile)

FIPRESCI Prize for Best Actress in a Foreign-Language Film

Isabelle Huppert in Elle (France)

New Voices/New Visions Award

Winner: White Sun (Nepal/U.S./Qatar/Netherlands), directed by Deepak Runiyar

Special Mentions: Kati Kati (Kenya/Germany), directed by Mbithi Masya, and Mellow Mud (Latvia), directed by Renārs Vimba

The John Schlesinger Award

Winner: No Dress Code Required (Mexico), directed by Cristina Herrera Bórquez

Special Mention: Beauties of the Night (Mexico), directed by Maria José Cuevas

Cine Latino Award

Winner: Neruda (Chile), directed by Pablo Larraín

Special Mention: Everything Else (Mexico), directed by Natalia Alamda

HP Bridging the Borders Award

Winner: Mercenary (France), directed by Sacha Wolff

6 Months Into Freelancing, 6 Lessons Learned (the hard way)

Oct. 10, 2014 was my last day at the Tampa Bay Times — after having been a staff photographer there for almost (3 months shy of) 10 years. It was a rude awakening, to say the least. I’d survived 4-5 rounds of layoffs and buyouts in my short time there, and never imagined I’d be on the chopping block. I was doing good work. I was always an idea person, bringing my own to the table instead of waiting to be assigned stuff. I was telling in-depth stories, assigned to the enterprise team of the best narrative feature writers at the paper and helped them launch “Floridian,” the Sunday Feature section, into a monthly magazine.

Sometime late September of last year, I walked into a meeting with two bosses, where I was told “You can be terminated effective immediately or take the buyout and get the full severance package.”

The meeting lasted all of 5 minutes.

So while freelancing wasn’t something I had sought out, I had to learn to embrace it.

The last 6 months have flown by, and I wanted to share a couple of lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR JOB. The hardest thing for me to come to terms with was that I was a newspaper photographer, and now I am not. And I loved being a newspaper photographer. Loved. Loved covering my community. Loved working with amazingly talented writers and editors. Loved being part of a team. And loved seeing the tangible results of a hard day’s work in print and then see it actually make a difference in my community. Since college it was all I’d seen myself doing. And I wasn’t sure how to stop doing it. BUT… I had no choice.

I definitely went through all 5 stages of grief… Sometimes in the same day. And then I hit the last one… acceptance. And I picked up the pieces and moved on.
What it taught me is that I wasn’t just a newspaper photographer. I am a concerned photographer who likes digging deep, telling stories that matter, and making pictures that make people look/stop/think/ask questions/care. And I don’t have to stop doing that. In fact, I can do it for lots of people now, not just one publication. And most importantly, I can do it for myself. It forced me to reevaluate how I thought of myself, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I never imagined myself as a freelancer before. Never thought I could do it. I liked — NO LOVED — the security of a weekly paycheck with benefits. And I don’t think I ever would’ve made this jump unless forced to. But as my good friend Josh Ritchie likes to remind me: Leap and the net will appear.

The best part was slowly realizing that 15 years of hard work, making solid pictures, and building relationships with folks at workshops and photo conferences has paid off. I got a bunch of great phone calls and emails immediately after announcing I was leaving the paper from people who wanted to send me their contract, get me in their system, and were excited to learn they could hire me as a freelancer now.

I’m not my job. I’m so much more than that.

But when I was buried so deep in it, it was really hard to see that there was any other way.

2. BE OPEN TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES. One of the things I decided early on was that I was going to embrace every new opportunity that came my way this first year of freelancing. I was going to say YES to everything (unless it was just a really bad deal, or a rights’ grabby kinda thing or unless someone just flat out wants me to work for free).

So in mid-October, I got a call from a photo producer at Turner Broadcasting asking me if I’d like to shoot production stills, essentially behind the scenes photos of cast and crew, on the set of one of their network TV shows. One episode was being filmed in Florida. I’d never thought of shooting for a TV show before. But the show sounded interesting, and the work sounded challenging. So, I said yes. I’m getting ready to shoot my 5th assignment for them in as many months.

In the last six months I’ve shot for The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, TNT and CNN, Audubon Magazine, the NCAA’s Champion Magazine, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, AARP, Education Week and a handful of others… I’ve been sent to places like Curaçao and Paducah, Kentucky for shoots. I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying this simply to make the point that I’m working for publications I’d never even imagined working with before, and going places I’d never imagined going. And it’s been awesome.

I’ve learned to say yes, and not just lock myself into this “I’m a newspaper photographer” mentality. It’s exciting being open to the possibilities of where photography will take me.

3. FIND BALANCE. I make a to-do list each morning — when I don’t have any assignments. Because even when you’re not “working,” everything you do needs to be focused on making your business work better. I have found though that I go stir crazy if I sit in front of my computer, alone in my house all day, talking to nobody but my dog for 8-10 hours a day. So I also schedule things like read two chapters of a book outside in the backyard, making it to an exercise classes at the gym, taking a long walk with my dog or getting lunch with a fellow freelancer. Giving myself the freedom to take mental and physical breaks has made all the difference in my health and well being, it also makes me feel like I’m not on an island.

4. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. One of the first calls I made after reeling from shock of the buyout news was to call a financial planner. I immediately rolled over my 401k to get it invested by someone who really knows what they’re doing and inquired about how I was doing, financially. And fearing never being able to retire now, opened a Roth IRA, with a goal of contributing to with each assignment. Then I went to see my CPA later that same week. He talked me through incorporating and setting myself up as an S-corp. And he gave great tips on all of the things I could expense, write-off, etc.

My existing credit cards are paid off. And I recently got a new one that’s working for me and my business as far as travel/rewards points go. I’ve also set up frequent flier miles for all the airlines I’m using and rewards numbers for all the hotels I stay in. Those things will come in handy when I want to take a vacation (and I realize my new company doesn’t give me 5 weeks of paid vacation anymore). I’ve stopped buying unnecessary things, learned where I could cut back, and become really good at saving. 

I’m a firm believer in Suze Orman’s 8-month emergency fund to plan for all the what-ifs in life. A big part of that is calculating exactly what you need to live on each month. Baseline = rent/mortgage + car payment + car insurance + cell phone bill + electricity/water/gas + groceries + a little bit of spending money for a few meals out or beers with friends. Now multiply that times eight. And that keeps me from stressing when there’s invoices that are 30 days overdue and clients still haven’t paid up.

5. WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS, AND THEN THERE ARE DRY SPELLS. It’s great being busy. It’s great being so busy that you’re begging for a day or two off so you can do little things like go to the grocery store and do laundry, or get out all of those invoices you haven’t gotten to yet, because you haven’t had time. Then you get that glorious day off. And you can breathe. And you start to get caught up on things. And then you get another day off and you’re like this is great — this is almost like a weekend. I’m going to go to the beach today or play in the garden. And then another day off, and you find yourself inevitable wondering if the phone is ever going to ring again. 

But at some point, you have to learn to embrace these periods of downtime as time to refocus and reinvest that energy elsewhere… Maybe now is the time to get a jump start on your next email newsletter or mailer promos. Maybe it’s time to start researching those ideas you’ve filled notebooks with and writing grants to find funding for them. Maybe it’s the time to actually start shooting those personal projects you’ve been dreaming about for a while but haven’t had the time for yet. Downtime doesn’t have to be down and out time. I’m trying to look at it as time to do work for you instead of them. And it won’t be dry forever. That phone eventually does ring again, and then your dopamine levels skyrocket, and all is right with the world… and then you’ll find yourself wishing for a little of that downtime.

6. BEING HAPPY. I feel like (and this has been confirmed by several independent sources) I’m actually happier now because I’m not always angry and/or frustrated by the decisions being made at work. I’ve been on the road a fair amount since going freelance, and when I’m home, I’ve learned the importance of really being there and being fully present. I’ve learned to enjoy the downtime, and find the balance. I have more time for long walks and taking my dog to the park and reading than I have in years – and those things alone have made a tremendous impact on my mental health and well being. 

And most importantly, I think I’m making better pictures that I have in years because I’m working for myself. And while independence is a little scary sometimes — I’ve found that a healthy dose of fear is a huge motivator — it’s made me kick it up a gear. The work I’m doing now not only goes in publications I want to be working for, but those images are also going on my website, in my promos and are the very things that are hopefully helping me get the next job. It’s nice not to have an editor tell me, “this is only running two columns on 3B, so don’t waste a lot of time on it.” Now, my new boss would never say that. She actually respects the work I’m doing — and that makes me pretty damn happy.


Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation.

IDA Movie Trailer (2014)
A Movie directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
Cast : Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik, Joanna Kulig
Release Date : In Theaters May 9th, 2014

Winner Toronto International Film Festival 2013 - International Critics Award, Pawel Pawlikowski

Winner London Film Festival 2013 - Best Film

Winner Warsaw Film Festival 2013 - Grand Prix

Winner Polish Film Awards 2014 - Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Agata Kulesza), and Best Editing

Winner Cinequest Film Festival 2014 - Best Narrative Feature: Drama

Oscar 2015 (February 22, 2015) for best foreign language film