It’s no wonder the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. picked Woody Allen as the recipient of this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award. No longer just a fixture of WASP-y upper east side Manhattan (he somewhat manages a paralytic fear of flying), Allen is considered a global treasure, embraced by movie-going minions in London, where he shot “Match Point”; Barcelona, where he set “Vicki Cristina Barcelona”; and the eternal city of Rome (“To Rome With Love”). And then there’s the French who, mais bien sur, love Woody Allen, especially at Cannes; of his 40 films, 11 have played at the famed fest, and five of them, including “Midnight in Paris,” which went on to win the screenplay Oscar, have bowed opening night.
In whatever foreign city Allen parks his portable Olympia typewriter from the early 1950s — in 1982, he was plucked as the brand ambassador for Seibu, the Japanese department store — the Woodman is hailed as the consummate American neurotic and a master of comic cinema.
“Woody Allen is in a very special place when it comes to Europe,” says Theo Kingma, the president of the HFPA, who writes for a publication based in Holland and who based his decision to fete Allen “on his merit as an absolute international icon.”
“People love his work and will go to each film that he makes regardless if it’s a good film or a lesser film,” he notes of Allen’s enormous, and loyal, European following. “He has a style of filmmaking that is so familiar to them. He has been using the same font for about as long as he’s been making movies, the same type of music. He’s left a very fascinating impression and, in turn, Europeans are fascinated with him. Whenever he decides to shoot a movie in a certain country, he becomes a hero there for at least a year.”