Lester James Peries and Clint Eastwood to receive UNESCO's Fellini Gold Medal at Cannes FestivalParis – On the occasion of the 56th Cannes International Film Festival, which this year pays homage to the great Italian director Federico Fellini, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura will present the Organization’s Fellini Gold Medal to film directors Lester James Peries (Sri Lanka) and Clint Eastwood (United States). The ceremony will take place on May 24, at 5.30 p.m. at the Cap-Eden Roc Hotel, in Cap d’Antibes.
Peries will be in Cannes for the special tribute being paid to him by the festival with the screening (out of competition) of his new film Mansion by the Lake, based on Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard. He will receive the UNESCO medal “in honour of his distinguished career, which has inspired an entire generation of Sri-Lankan directors, and in recognition of his exceptional contribution to Sri Lankan cinema, laying the foundations for a veritable avant-garde cinema on the island.”
Peries, considered the father of Sri Lankan cinema, was born in 1919 in the then British colony of Ceylon, and began his film career in Britain while working as a journalist. When his country became independent in 1952, he returned home to help with the growth of the local film industry. His first big success came in 1963 with the film Changes in the Village and since then he has made about 20 feature films.
Clint Eastwood, who chaired the Cannes Festival jury in 1994, is this year presenting (in competition) his new film Mystic River, based on the thriller by Dennis Lehane. He will receive the Fellini Medal “in recognition of his exceptional film career, particularly as the director of numerous films made in the great American tradition which bear his distinctive trademark.”
Eastwood, 73, has explored many genres in the 24 films he has made, which include road movies, tragedies, thrillers and westerns. He started out as an actor in TV westerns, became a world-famous film star and then a director much admired by critics and the public.
The Fellini Medal (bearing the effigy of the director) was created by UNESCO in 1995 to pay tribute to major figures in the film industry, and to notable efforts to boost the art of film. Winners so far have included Iranian directors Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Samira Makhmalbaf, South Korean director Im Kwon-taek, French producer and talent-spotter Pierre Rissient, British actress Vanessa Redgrave, French actor Gérard Depardieu and Jérôme Clément, the head of the Franco-German TV station Arte.
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