Spielberg awarded top French honour

6th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 5 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac Sunday decorated US filmmaker Stephen Spielberg with the Legion of Honour, the country's highest distinction, in a ceremony attended by a cluster of film stars.

PARIS, Sept 5 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac Sunday decorated US filmmaker Stephen Spielberg with the Legion of Honour, the country's highest distinction, in a ceremony attended by a cluster of film stars.  

"Our country loves cinema, all of cinema," said Chirac. "It is the essence of our fight for cultural diversity... recognising the equal dignity of all cultures," said the French leader before honouring Spielberg.  

Chirac then evoked Spielberg's film Schindler's List, which he described as one of his personal favourites.   

"In this difficult period where intolerance, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and fanaticism are again manifesting themselves, it is essential for cinema (...) to help us recall the horror of the unspeakable."  

In his response, Spielberg, who had arrived from the northern town of Deauville where he is attending the 30th annual American Film Festival, warned that hatred was a global threat more dangerous than either AIDS or cancer.  

"We live in a world right now which is not recognizable from what I experienced growing up in the 1950s and 1960s," he told Chirac.  

"I commend your efforts in what you are doing about anti-Semitism here in France (...) We have to work very, very hard to make people understand that it is the differences we have to celebrate and not condemn."  

"Sometimes the minorities have the most to contribute to a society," the Jewish director added.   Spielberg also paid tribute to legendary French film director Francois Truffaut, who died 20 years ago and who had starred in Spielberg's 1977 classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.   

Attending the ceremony at the Elysee presidential palace were such French and American film personalities as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sophie Marceau, Nathalie Baye and Patrick Bruel.  

The National Order of the Legion of Honour was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte and recognises eminent service to the Republic of France. 

 

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

 

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