While the program said the first Directors Guild of America honors on Nov. 21 would topline helmer Martin Scorsese, the real star of the evening was the city in which the event took place. Indeed, every honoree and presenter made a point to mention Gotham.
“This city has always been an inspiration for me,” said Scorsese, who was presented his award by nephew Nicolas Cage. “For one thing, I learned everything I know about lighting from living in this city, which is nothing. I lived on an alley where there was no light. I could never tell if it was night or day, I could only tell if it was raining.”
The host of the event at the midtown Hilton was Scorsese’s longtime cinema partner Harvey Keitel.
“I would like to thank all the beautiful young people who refused to have sex with these directors when they were younger,” Keitel said, explaining why the vets have honed their craft.
Honoree Robert Shaye was given a loving tribute by director John Waters, who praised the New Line CEO not for turning his company into a hit machine, but for championing films such as “Crippled Masters,” “The Wedding Trough” and his own Odorama spectacular, “Polyester.”
Teamsters Local 817 prexy Thomas O’Donnell was given a standing ovation from an audience that included Milos Forman and DGA prexy Jack Shea when presented his award by Robert De Niro. The actor praised his friend for having been an advocate of filmmaking in the city.
Not all the honorees were New Yorkers: Kevin Spacey presented an award to Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) for his defense of filmmakers’ rights, while John Sayles presented oneto the Austin (Texas) Film Society.
In accepting the honor, AFS founder and artistic director Richard Linklater threw the spotlight back on Scorsese. “It is very special for us to be honored on the same night as Martin Scorsese,” he said. “No other filmmaker has created such enthusiasm for the history and culture of cinema.”