Winslet, Biel, Blanchett Win At Palm Springs Film Fest

Movie-goers last year may not have noticed the dramas “Babel” and “Little Children,” but the films got plenty of attention at the Palm Springs International Film Festival 2007 Gala Awards.

Both drew multiple honors at Saturday night’s festivities in this desert resort city 100 miles east of Los Angeles.

“Babel,” which starred Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi, took the Ensemble Performance Award. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu took home the director’s award for the film, which has struggled at the box office.

Pitt, 43, told Associated Press Television News: “I love the undercurrent of this film, and that is the inability, sometimes, to understand where the other side is coming from.”

Inarritu, Barraza, Kikuchi and Pitt are nominated for Golden Globe Awards, to be handed out Jan. 15, and all said they would attend.

Blanchett accepted the festival’s Career Achievement Award. She apologized for making so many movies released in 2006, including “Babel,” “Notes on a Scandal” and “The Good German.”

Access: Brad in Palm Springs,

Kate Winslet won the festival’s Desert Palm Achievement for Acting.

Winslet said the attention for her performance in the drama “Little Children” has done nothing less than resuscitate the commercial prospects of the $30 million film, which has earned less than $3 million in ticket sales since hitting theaters 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.”

“Little Children” director Todd Field also won the Sonny Bono Visionary Award. Bono, who died in 1998, founded the film festival in 1989 as Palm Springs mayor.

Actor Sienna Miller presented Jessica Biel with the Rising Star Award. Biel, 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 honor.

“You know, I was nothing but pleased, even though I’ve been working for a long time,” Biel said.

Actor Adam Beach accepted the male actor Rising Star award for his portrait of an American Indian World War II soldier in “Flags of Our Fathers.”

“Little Miss Sunshine” took the Chairman’s Vanguard Award, and Jennifer Hudson won for breakthrough performance in “Dreamgirls.”

The Palm Springs International Film Festival runs through Jan. 15.

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