LONDON  – British director John Boorman received the British Film Institute’s Fellowship, its highest honor, at an event on Monday night at the BFI’s Southbank facility in London.

The evening kicked off with an on-stage interview with Boorman hosted by Michel Ciment, editor of French cinema magazine Positif.

Actress Sinead Cusack presented the award to the 80-year-old helmer, which he described sardonically as looking “like an ashtray for non-smokers.”

Following a montage of his films, including “Point Blank,” “Hell in the Pacific,” “Hope and Glory” and “The General,” Boorman said “I’m exhausted just watching, thinking I did all that.”

He told the audience he is once again trying to make an independent film, his first since 2006’s “The Tiger’s Tail.”

Boorman joked, “How do you become a millionaire making independent movies? You start off as a billionaire. When you make an independent film people look at you like you’re committing a criminal act. We go on. A few good films get made every year and that gives you the heart to continue.”

Among the 74 past recipients of the BFI Fellowship are helmers Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton, Michelangelo Antonioni, Akira Kurosawa, Bernardo Bertolucci,  Orson Welles and Michael Powell. The latter was honored during Boorman’s  seven-year term as a BFI governor.