The actor will be honored at this year’s awards gala, held Jan. 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
“‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ is one of the best feel-good movies of the year,” said festival chairman Harold Matzner. “Its star Zack Gottsagen gives an outstanding performance as a young man with Down syndrome who runs away from a residential nursing home to fulfill his dream and ends up going on a life-changing journey. We look forward to seeing more of Zack in future roles and it is our great honor to present him with the Rising Star Award.”
Also starring Shia LaBeouf, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a modern day take on Huckleberry Finn. In the movie, Gottsagen’s character runs away from a nursing home to follow his dream of attending a professional wrestling school. He later meets a local outlaw (LaBeouf), who becomes an unlikely coach and ally as the two characters wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whiskey, find God, and catch fish. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” has earned $20 million at the box office, making it this year’s highest-grossing independent movie.
Past recipients of the rising star award include Dakota Fanning, Gal Gadot, Anna Kendrick, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence and Alicia Vikander.
Gottsagen is a leader in SAIL (Self-Advocates & Independent Living) through the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization and is actively involved with Very Special Arts. He won the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award in 2018 for his work in the Down syndrome community.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival runs from Jan. 2 through Jan. 13.