The Billy Elliot director will receive the trophy for his work on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.
Festival chairman Harold Matzner says, "Stephen Daldry has garnered international acclaim as a director, bringing his consummate skill to both the cinema and stage. In his latest work, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, he directs a virtuoso cast in the story of a young boy who, after losing his father on 9/11, goes on a quest to learn what an unusual key found in his father's possessions may unlock.
"This journey then becomes a metaphor for the need of a child to maintain a close bond with a loved one who died tragically and too soon."
Daldry will be handed the prize at the festival's gala on 7 January (12) at the Palm Springs Convention Center.