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Palm Springs Festival will honor Sean Penn

The 19th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will honor Academy Award winner Sean Penn with the Director of the Year Award for his latest film Into the Wild at the Festival’s annual Awards Gala on Saturday, January 5, 2008. Past director honorees include Alejandro González Iñárritu for Babel, Anthony Minghella for Cold Mountain, Alexander Payne for Sideways and Ang Lee for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Festival chairman Earl Greenburg said, “Into the Wild is a magnificent film that showcases Sean Penn’s gifted and powerhouse talent as a director. We’re delighted to present him with this year’s Director of the Year Award for his vision portrayed in this film.”

Hosted by “Entertainment Tonight’s” Mary Hart, the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala will also honor previously announced honorees Marion Cotillard, Emile Hirsch and Nikki Blonsky at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Into the Wild opened to critical acclaim in September 2007 following its premiere at this year’s Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. Based on Jon Krakauer's best-selling non-fiction book, the film was written and directed by Penn and features an all star cast including star Emile Hirsch, Hal Holbrook, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt.

Penn’s feature film directorial debut came with 1991’s The Indian Runner, which he also wrote and produced, followed by The Crossing Guard in 1995, which he also wrote and produced. His third film as director/producer was 2001’s The Pledge starring Jack Nicholson and was named a Top Ten Films of 2001 by The National Board of Review. Since then, Penn wrote and directed the United States’ contribution to the compilation film 11’09’01. This important project gathered 11 acclaimed directors from around the world to create short films in response to the horrific events of September 11, 2001. In 2003 the film was nominated for a French Cesar in the best European Union Film category and received a special recognition award from the National Board of Review.

Penn has become an American film icon in a career spanning nearly three decades. He has been nominated four times for the Academy Award as Best Actor: in Dead Man Walking, Sweet and Lowdown, I Am Sam and most recently won the Oscar in 2003 for his searing performance in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River.

Penn has appeared in over thirty films including Taps, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Falcon and the Snowman, At Close Range, Colors, Racing with the Moon, Casualties of War, We’re No Angels, State of Grace, Carlito’s Way, U-Turn, The Thin Red Line, Dead Man Walking (Winner Best Actor /1995 Berlin Film Festival), She’s So Lovely (Winner Best Actor / 1997 Cannes Film Festival), Hurlyburly (Winner Best Actor / 1998 Venice Film Festival), 21 Grams (Winner Best Actor / 2003 Venice Film Festival), The Interpreter, and most recently All the King’s Men.

In 2002, Sean Penn was presented with the Modern Master Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and in 2003, became the youngest ever recipient of the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Sebastian Film Festival. Additionally, in 2004, he received the John Steinbeck Award for outspoken torchbearers in the creative arts.

Founded in 1990 by then Mayor Sonny Bono, the PSIFF is one of the largest film festivals in North America. The Festival has an attractive film sales and distribution record and is seen by American distributors as one of the best Academy Award campaign marketing tools. The Festival also features cultural events, filmmaker tributes, industry seminars and an annual black-tie gala award presentation.

Renewing their support of this year’s Festival is Title Sponsor, The City of Palm Springs and Presenting Sponsors, Spencer’s Restaurant, The Desert Sun, the City of Indian Wells, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and Wessman Development. Major sponsors include Integrated Wealth Management, Entertainment Tonight, Regal Entertainment and Wells Fargo.

The 19th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, scheduled from January 3-14, 2008, will feature a line up of more than 230 films from 65 countries, seminars, special events and Gala receptions. For additional information call 760-322-2930 or 800-898-7256 or www.psfilmfest.org.

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