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Desert fest taps Payne top helmer

'Sideways' director wins fest prize

HOLLYWOOD — Alexander Payne has been selected director of the year by the Palm Springs Film Festival.

The “Sideways” helmer will be honored at the fest’s awards gala Saturday at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Payne joins the fest’s previously announced honorees including Nicole Kidman, Kirk Douglas, Kevin Spacey, Samuel L. Jackson, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Bryce Dallas Howard and Howard Shore. Also, Walter Salles will be honored Jan. 12 with the international filmmaker prize.

Payne has received Golden Globe and Independent Spirit noms for director and drew director kudos from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. for the bittersweet wine-themed comedy.

Fest, which kicks off Thursday and runs through Jan. 17, will screen 190 films from more than 65 countries.

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