The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA), in association with the John Ford Estate and the Irish Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, have announced the establishment of ‘John Ford Ireland’, celebrating the work and legacy of Irish-American director John Ford.
Watch the report on RTÉ Six One News Here
Listen to Áine Moriarty, Chief Executive of the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA), Dan Ford, grandson of John Ford on RTÉ Radio One Morning Ireland Show
Ford is recognised as one the finest filmmakers of his generation completing 136 films during his 60 years in the business including influential films like ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, ‘Stagecoach’ and ‘The Searchers’. He also won a record four Oscars for Best Director during his lifetime and Irish themes featured heavily in a number of works, the best known being ‘The Quiet Man’, starring John Wayne and Maureen O Hara.
John Ford Ireland will honour the filmmaker's achievements through an annual symposium – the first of which will be held in Dublin during June 2012 - and the John Ford Award, which will be decided on by a committee of Ford experts and presented annually to a contemporary filmmaker believed to embody similar skills, ingenuity and vision as Ford. The recipient of the first John Ford Award is renowned US filmmaker Clint Eastwood, winner of four Oscars and director of films such as 'Gran Torino', 'Mystic River', 'Unforgiven' and his latest 'J. Edgar'.
Presenting the inaugural John Ford Award to Clint Eastwood at a reception in Los Angeles Irish Ambassador to the US Michael Collins said: “I am honoured to meet with Clint Eastwood and to present him with the inaugural John Ford Award. John Ford was one of the world's greatest filmmakers and a man who also took great pride in his Irish heritage. The selection of Clint Eastwood as the recipient of this inaugural John Ford Award draws a direct line between two of Hollywood's greatest and most inspirational and creative figures. I salute the Irish Film and Television Academy for this initiative and wish them well with their plans to host the first John Ford Ireland annual Symposium in Ireland next year.”
Ambassador Collins was joined by Áine Moriarty, Chief Executive of IFTA and Dan Ford, grandson of John Ford amongst others at the presentation in Los Angeles.
Speaking at the LA event, Áine Moriarty said, “Clint Eastwood is one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, a unique visionary who is leaving his legacy to the world, just as John Ford has done in his lifetime. His films have great integrity and connect with people from ‘all walks of life’ around the world. Themes of migration, identity, redemption and faith in the human spirit – these are his themes, as they were Ford’s.”
On receiving his award Mr. Eastwood thanked IFTA and John Ford Ireland saying, “This is a great privilege for me because any kind of association with John Ford is most directors’ dream as he was certainly a pioneer of American filmmaking and I grew up on his films. His Westerns had a great influence on me, as I think they had on everybody.”
Plans for the inaugural John Ford Ireland Symposium next June, are currently underway. It is hoped the symposium will attract the public and the industry with its programme of events including a series of screenings, exhibitions, discussions, masterclasses, lectures and public interviews designed to educate, inform and inspire participants. John Ford Ireland will also be setting up a Film School and Scholarship programme in its second year aimed at helping new talented filmmakers to visit Ireland and attend the John Ford Ireland Film School.
Speaking on the establishment of John Ford Ireland, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan TD said, “What a perfect setting to study this legendary filmmaker's work in the land of his beloved ancestors at the John Ford Ireland Symposium… I anticipate a tremendous excitement within Ireland's film industry with the establishment of this initiative – and I look forward to welcoming film communities and the extensive Irish diaspora across the globe who have been inspired by the incredible work of John Ford, and of course this year's John Ford Award Honouree, Clint Eastwood.”
Dan Ford, Grandson of John Ford said “I would like to thank the Irish Film & Television Academy on behalf of my grandfather and the entire Ford family for this initiative. I know he would be extremely proud of the Academy and where the Irish film industry is today, for many years he was an active participant in trying to establish an Irish film industry. If he was alive today he would not only be happy to receive this Award but be very pleased with the amount of film activity that currently goes on in Ireland.”
Check out www.johnfordireland.org for further details or follow @johnfordireland on twitter.
'J.Edgar' opens in Ireland on January 20th.