Palm Springs film fest gala to honor rock's U2
PALM SPRINGS — A lineup that already includes more ‘A’ list movie stars than any gala in the 25-year history of the Palm Springs International Film Festival just got a little more impressive with the announcement that the rock band U2 will receive the Sonny Bono Visionary Award Saturday at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
The award is traditionally introduced by gala honorary chairwoman Mary Bono, widow of the festival founder and award namesake. So it could be a case of, “Mrs. Bono meet Mr. Bono,” lead singer of the band being considered for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
“We normally present the Sonny Bono Visionary Award to a director,” festival chairman Harold Matzner said in a statement, “but for our 25th anniversary we wanted to take the occasion to celebrate U2, a visionary group and the world’s premier rock band, for their unparalleled humanitarian work against extreme poverty, disease and social injustice. Their latest song ‘Ordinary Love’ from the film ‘Mandela’ is an ode to Nelson Mandela … whom the band worked with in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.”
The gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Steve McQueen, Thomas Newman, Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and the cast of “American Hustle,” including Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, who are expected to attend.
But U2 could take the acceptance speeches up a notch with Bono’s history of oratory and writing for print. He gave a legendary introduction to Frank Sinatra for his lifetime achievement award at the 1994 Grammys, and he recently wrote a moving tribute to Mandela in Time Magazine.
“Ordinary Love” is the band’s first single in three years. The film’s producer, longtime Mandela friend Anant Singh, inspired Bono by sending him the love letters Mandela wrote to his wife Minnie from his prison cell on Robben Island. The song plays over the biopic’s credits.
Bono, who pronounces his first syllable with a short ‘O’ while Mary Bono pronounces her first syllable with a long ‘O,” was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, 2005 and 2006 for his philanthropy. He was named Time Person of the Year with Bill and Melinda Gates in 2005.
U2 was named to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility in 2005, and they have won 22 Grammy Awards, most recently for Album of the Year for “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb” in 2006. The band was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2003 for “The Hands That Built America” from “Gangs of New York” but lost to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” The song won the Golden Globe that year.
“Ordinary Love” has been nominated for a Golden Globe and a Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics Choice Movie Award for Best Song.
Matzner said Bono has confirmed his appearance at the gala, but it should be learned this week if the other band members — The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. — will attend.
The Palm Springs festival runs Friday through Jan. 13 at venues throughout the city. The gala is sold out.
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