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Variety to Honor Will Smith, '10 Directors to Watch' & More at Palm Springs Film Fest


Variety will present two-time Academy Award nominee Will Smith with theCreative Impact in Acting Award, presented by Mercedes-Benz,which celebrates his scope of work, ranging from his comedic performances to his most recent dramatic work with his critically acclaimed and groundbreaking performance in this year's "Concussion," for which he has received a Golden Globe nomination. In addition, Variety will present Academy Award-winner Charlie Kaufman with the Creative Impact in Directing Award, presented by Mercedes-Benz, which celebrates his career as a director and his work on the animated feature-film, "Anomalisa," which has received a Golden Globe nomination, five Annie Award nominations and four INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS nominations to date. "Anomalisa" also recently won the Best Animated Film award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

"It's been 16 years since Variety noted Charlie Kaufman as one of 10 Screenwriters to Watch," said Steven Gaydos, Vice President and Executive Editor at Variety. "His three Oscar nominations, including a win for 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' more than validated our prediction of success, but more importantly, Kaufman has only increased his capacity for startling us with original works like breakthrough, the mind-bending 'Being John Malkovich,' the edgy Philip Seymour Hoffman-starrer 'Synecdoche, New York' and this year's breathtaking reinvention of the animated feature, 'Anomalisa.'

"Will Smith's status as one of the world's biggest box office stars has never obscured his strengths as one of American cinema's finest actors, a point not lost on Oscar voters who've nominated Smith as Best Actor twice, for 'Ali' and 'The Pursuit of Happyness.' His penchant for taking on tough thesping assignments won't surprise those who've paid attention to Smith's range, which was vividly on display from the beginning of his career. While still cutting his comedic teeth on the breakout TV hit 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air,' 25 years ago, Smith was stepping up to acting challenges in dramas such as 'Where The Day Takes You' and the complex central role of Paul in the film version of John Guare's Pulitzer Prize-nominated 'Six Degrees of Separation.' With this year's 'Concussion' Smith rings true as real life Dr. Bennet Omalu, the David to the National Football League's Goliath, a role very much in the tradition of James Stewart's famed 'Mr. Smith' and Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch.

Previous recipients have included Steve Carell, Robert Marshall, Jonah Hill, David O. Russell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg.

"10 Directors to Watch"

"10 Directors to Watch" debuted in 1996 and the annual event moved to the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January 2011. "10 Directors to Watch" was the first of Variety's "10 to Watch" series spotlighting the most exciting new talents in the fields of directing, writing, producing, acting, cinematography and comedy. This year's "10 Directors to Watch" include: Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead), Deniz Gamze Erguven (Mustang), Alex Garland (Ex Machina), Ciro Guerra (Embrace of the Serpent), Slavek Horak (Home Care), Duke Johnson (Anomalisa), Peter Landesman (Concussion), Laszlo Nemes (Son of Saul), Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic) and Elizabeth Wood (White Girl).

Past "10 Directors to Watch" honorees have included Ben Affleck ("Gone Baby Gone"), Wes Anderson ("Bottle Rocket"), Scott Cooper ("Crazy Heart"), Ava DuVernay ("Selma"), Marc Webb ("500 Days of Summer"), Christopher Nolan ("Memento"), Sam Taylor Wood ("Nowhere Boy") and Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild"), among others.

"Variety's garden brunch at the beautiful Parker Hotel in celebration of their 10 Directors to Watch has become a perennial favorite event at the festival," said Helen Du Toit, Artistic Director of the Palm Springs Film Festival. "And we are doubly delighted at the success already unspooling for the directors they have selected this year, five of whom have films featured in the festival. Four of those five directors' work will be featured in our Awards Buzz program - Deniz Gamze Erguven with Turkey's Foreign Language Oscar (TM) submission Mustang László Nemes' Son of Saul (Hungary) - both Golden Globe nominees, as well as Ciro Guerra with Embrace of the Serpent (Columbia) and Slávek Horák with Home Care. In addition, Director Duke Johnson's Anomalisa (co-directed with Charlie Kaufman), recently nominated for a Golden Globe for Animation, will also be featured in the festival. This collective success will make for a great celebration."
The event will be presented by Mercedes-Benz with venue partner the Parker Palm Springs.

About Variety Variety and provide the industry with the most comprehensive coverage of motion pictures, television and the digital space. With respected and experienced news reporters in Los Angeles, New York and around the world, Variety marries its historic coverage of the entertainment business with a technologically advanced website and new weekly print edition, offering readers the in-depth news coverage needed to remain competitive in the ever-changing entertainment industry. The Variety Group - Variety,, Variety Insight, LA 411, NY 411 - is owned by Variety Media, LLC, a division of Penske Media Corporation.

About The Palm Springs International Film Festival The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 135,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Black Tie Awards Gala, honoring the best achievements of the filmic year by a celebrated list of talents who, in recent years, have included Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Julianne Moore, Brad Pitt, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Roberts, David O. Russell, Meryl Streep, and Reese Witherspoon.
For more information, call 760-322-2930 or 800-898-7256 or visit

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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