Mark Wahlberg to Receive Indie Impact Award at Festival

After 14 years, Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” will have a new home at the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival. The event will take place Jan. 9 on the Palm Court at the Parker Palm Springs, where Variety will present actor Mark Wahlberg with the Indie Impact Award, which celebrates a performer and filmmaker able to cross over to mainstream studio successes without losing that dynamic drive and vision which first brought the artist to the global film spotlight.

“Mark’s distinguished acting career was launched in independent films such as ‘The Basketball Diaries’ and ‘Boogie Nights,’ and he continues to prove his talent and his clout as a first-rank star,” stated Variety Executive Editor Steven Gaydos. “He has energized indie projects for significant American directors such as David O. Russell and Paul Thomas Anderson and big budget features for directors such as Martin Scorsese, while establishing himself as a major independent producing force in both film and television.”

Wahlberg’s career ranges from his breakthrough performance in the acclaimed New Line film “Basketball Diaries” to his internationally lauded work in New Line’s “Boogie Nights,” to his Oscar-nominated turn in the GK Films’ production “The Departed.” His current project is the acclaimed Relativity Media & Mandeville-produced hit “The Fighter,” directed by David O. Russell, who will be honored at the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Awards Gala with its prestigious Director of the Year Award. Variety’s Indie Impact Award originated at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, with Philip Seymour Hoffman as the inaugural honoree.

“10 Directors to Watch”

“10 Directors to Watch” debuted in 1996 and was presented each year at the Sundance Film Festival before moving this year to the Palm Springs International Film Festival. “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 four with films at Palm Springs: Daniel Espinosa (“Easy Money”), Ed Gass-Donnelly (“Small Town Murder Songs”), Baran Bo Odar (“The Silence”) and Juanita Wilson (“As If I Am Not There”). The other directors are Richard Ayoade (“Submarine”), Elgin James (“Little Birds”), Patrick Lussier (“Drive Angry”), Andre Overdal (“The Troll Hunter”), Denis Villeneuve (“Incendies”) and Jason Weiner (“Arthur”). Past “10 Directors” honorees have included Ben Affleck (“Gone Baby Gone”), Wes Anderson (“Bottle Rocket”), Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart”), Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”), Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen”) and Christopher Nolan (“Memento”), among others.

Gaydos added, “Presenting our ‘10 Directors to Watch’ at the Palm Springs International Film Festival is an exciting new chapter in this series that has proven so important to Variety’s mission of identifying emerging talents across several key disciplines and from around the world. With Palm Springs’ longstanding commitment to showcasing the best in international and independent cinema, Variety has a great partner to help us raise the profiles of filmmakers poised for terrific careers and must-see new films.”

“We’re elated that Variety has chosen the Palm Springs International Film Festival as the new site for its prestigious ’10 Directors to Watch’ event,” commented Festival Director Darryl Macdonald. “Since its inception, this Festival has been devoted to championing the work of new and previously unheralded international directors – a hallmark that remains every bit as vital to the Festival to this day as it was in year one. That mission is exemplified both by our ongoing New Voices/New Visions and John Schlesinger Award competitions, as well as by our 2011 film lineup itself, which encompasses the work of 76 first-time directors among its 197 feature films. ‘10 Directors to Watch’ is a great event, and a perfect match for this Festival.”

The Festival has added two new screenings from The Weinstein Company including “Easy Money” by Daniel Espinosa and “14 Swords” by Daniel Lee. “The Silence,” directed by Baran Bo Odar, will be included in the New Voices New Visions Competition.

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