Bobbi Birleffii and Beverly Kopf’s Wish Me Away (pictured) and Judy Chaikin’s The Girls in the Band shared the prize for best documentary feature at the 2012 Palm Springs International Film Festival, which wraps today (January 15).
Wish Me Away looks at Chely Wright, the first prominent American country music star to openly identify herself as gay. The film traces Wright’s early life, her emergence as a star and her long journey towards coming out, and previously won the Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
The Girls in the Band, meanwhile, looks the hidden history of women jazz musicians, from pre-World War Two to the present day. The film celebrates bands such as The Ada Leonard Orchestra, Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears, The Diva Jazz Orchestra, and The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and comprises a mixture of archive footage and interviews.
Elsewhere at the festival, Tatiana Huezo Sanchez’s The Tiniest Place won The John Schlesinger Award, which is given to a first-time documentary filmmaker. The doc looks at small town in rural El Salvador that was completely depopulated during the civil war.
“This year’s line-up encompassed a particularly satisfying blend of challenging but highly compelling works, more broadly accessible crowd pleasers and debut films distinguished by their distinctive storytelling craft and technical prowess,” said festival director Darryl Macdonald in a statement.
“It’s been a very good year for the cinema, and a hugely rewarding year for all who worked on or participated in this labor of filmic love.”