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Palm Springs movie awards out

2007-01-08 09:03

Palm Springs - Some of last year's big commercial disappointments were among the greatest success stories at the Palm Springs International Film Festival 2007 Gala Awards.

The dramas Babel and Little Children, both widely considered poor box-office performers, took multiple honours.

Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet and Jessica Biel were among those who attended Saturday night's festivities in this desert resort city 160 kilometres east of Los Angeles. Pitt came to collect the Ensemble Performance Award for Babel, but did not bring Angelina Jolie or their children.

"They're all back in LA," he said, noting he flew across the country after working throughout the night, filming the sci-fi romance The Curious Curious Case of Benjamin Button with Blanchett. "We wrapped at about 6 this morning and got on a plane."

Pitt, 43, reunited on the red carpet with Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whom the festival honoured as Director of the Year, as well as co-stars Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi. Pitt said promoting Babel, which has struggled at the box office, makes it worth showing up to awards events.

"I love the undercurrent of this film, and that is the inability, sometimes, to understand where the other side is coming from," Pitt told AP Television.

Inarritu, Varraza, Kikuchi and Pitt are nominated for Golden Globe Awards, to be handed out January 15 in Beverly Hills, and all said they would be attending.

Blanchett accepted the festival's Career Achievement Award. She apologised for making so many movies that were released in 2006, including Babel, Notes on a Scandal, The Good German.

Winslet, winner of the festival's Desert Palm Achievement for Acting, said the awards attention for her performance in the drama Little Children has done nothing less than resuscitate the commercial prospects of the $30m (R216.4m) film, which has earned less than $3m in ticket sales since hitting theatres in early fall.

"That's the thing that's so fantastic about the nominations," she said. "It does mean that hopefully people will go and see the movie. It's given it a sort of new lease on life, which is wonderful for all of us involved."

Rising Star Award

Actress Sienna Miller (Casanova) showed up to present Jessica Biel with the Rising Star Award. Miller's new film, Factory Girl, portrays the life of fashion icon Edie Sedgwick, artist Andy Warhol's muse, who died from an overdose at age 28.

Biel (The Illusionist), who has logged 10 seasons as a regular and a guest star on the TV series 7th Heaven, said she gladly accepted the festival's Rising Star honour.

Actor Adam Beach got choked up when accepting the male-actor Rising Star award for his portrait of a Native American WWII soldier in Flags of Our Fathers.

"(The film) really sent a message out there, that Native Americans are not only heroes of this country, but also are human beings."

The Palm Springs International Film Festival was founded in 1989 and runs through January 15.

List of winners at the Palm Springs International Film Festival 2007 Gala Awards

Ensemble Performance Award: Babel

Director of the Year: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel)

Career Achievement Award: Cate Blanchett (Babel, Notes on a Scandal, The Good German)

Desert Palm Achievement for Action: Kate Winslet (Little Children)

Sony Bono Visionary Award: Todd Field (Little Children)

Rising Star Award, Male: Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers)

Rising Star Award, Female: Jessica Biel (The Illusionist)

Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing: Philip Glass (The Illusionist, Notes on a Scandal)

Chairman's Vanguard Award: Little Miss Sunshine

SAG Foundation Patron of the Arts Award: Sydney Pollack

Breakthrough Performance Award: Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)