FRANCE – Clint Eastwood received an honorary Palme d’Or from Cannes festival toppers Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux to celebrate “the talent of a grand master at the summit of his craft” at a private ceremony in Paris on Wednesday.
Eastwood, in France for the release of “Gran Torino,” has a long relationship with Cannes stretching back to 1985 when “Pale Rider” played in competition. He has returned to present “Bird,” “White Hunter Black Heart,” “Mystic River” and “Changeling.”
“When I made my first film 39 years ago, no one in the U.S. — except for Roger Ebert who was always very enthusiastic — believed in me as a filmmaker. But French cineastes have always been very supportive,” Eastwood told guests at a Paris restaurant. “France remains one of the rare countries that approaches cinema as an art form.”
Fremaux said of the honor, “In the U.S., they call this a lifetime achievement award, but in French the word achievement means ‘done’ and Clint Eastwood is far from being done. We’ll call it an ‘opening award.’ “
“This isn’t an act of iconoclasm,” Jacob told Eastwood. “We simply wanted to give you the special privilege of receiving the Palme of all Palmes tonight. And forget about your legendary modesty.”
Fremaux said the fest gave the Palme d’Or to Eastwood on Wednesday because he won’t be able to attend Cannes this year.