The rock band members of U2 were presented with the Sonny Bono Visionary Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival at its annual awards gala on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Palm Springs, Calif. Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. were honored for their work for the new film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." Presented by Cartier, the 25th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala was hosted by television personality Mary Hart. The awards gala also presented honors to Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, director Steve McQueen, Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o, Thomas Newman and the cast of "American Hustle." The Festival runs January 3-14, 2014.
Idris Elba and Naomie Harris from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" took to the stage to pay tribute to U2.
Naomie Harris started by saying "U2 has worked tirelessly and altruistically to raise global consciousness about such issues as poverty, disease and social injustice."
Idris Elba added "Bono has been nominated three times for a Nobel Prize Award. That's amazing."
After a short video, Bono and The Edge took to the stage to accept the Sonny Bono Visionary Award. The Edge was the first to speak and gave Bono a hard time for "just being a singer."
It was Bono's speech that was truly heartening as he stated "I do understand that people find it insufferable when artists stray from their box, but for a lot of us in this room that is the definition of being an artist. It is worth mentioning that more people live off of their imaginations than anywhere in the world."
Bono continued "Our one simple belief is that where you live should not decide whether you live. There are now 10 million lives in the developing world saved by antiretroviral therapy and U.S. tax payers have paid for three-quarters of this. Thank you America!"
“We normally present the Sonny Bono Visionary Award to a director, 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,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “Their latest song ‘Ordinary Love’ from the film 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' is an ode to Nelson Mandela, who had such a powerful impact on our world, and a man whom the band worked with in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. The Palm Springs International Film Festival is honored to present the 2014 Sonny Bono Visionary Award to U2.”
U2's song "Ordinary Love" was written specifically for the film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." The music for the film has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the score written by Alex Heffes and for the song "Ordinary Love" written by U2. The film chronicles the life of amazing life of Nelson Mandela, and it is very likely that U2 will be garnering an Oscar nomination as well.
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cellphones and no texting, please don't talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don't forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com