Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's 9th century martial arts feature "The Assassin" was named the best foreign language film of 2015 over the weekend at the 27th Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Selected from a field of 40 of the 80 foreign language film entries to the upcoming Academy Awards, "The Assassin" was singled out to receive the Fipresci Prize by the festival's jury of international film critics, who called it "one of the best films of a master director, and an example of the martial arts genre which is elevated into the realm of art by its superb visual style."
Other awards from the juried competition facet of the Palm Springs festival went to Sigurður Sigurjónsson and Theodór Júlíusson as best actors in a foreign language film for their roles in Iceland's "Rams," and to Alina Mihulova as best actress for the Czech Republic's "Home Care."
The festival's New Voices/New Visions award was won by the Belgian-French dark comedy "Death By Death" from director Xavier Seron, and the John Schlesinger award for a first-time documentary filmmaker was given to Japanese director Erik Shirai for "The Birth of Sake."
Indian director Prashant Nair's "Umrika" received the HP Bringing the Borders Award, presented to the film deemed "most successful in exemplifying art that promotes bringing the people of our world closer together."
Audience awards for narrative feature and documentary feature will be announced Sunday, and the festival concludes Monday.