Harvey Weinstein to Receive France's Highest Honor
When The Artist won the Oscar for best picture, they celebrated in France. Now the nation is celebrating the key figure at the American company who helped the black-and-white French production take home the gold.
Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Co., will be honored with the Légion d'Honneur, the French nation’s highest distinction, it was announced Friday by French president Nicolas Sarkozy. The award comes in recognition of his contributions to cinema and decades of work producing highly regarded films.
Weinstein knew about the honor before the Academy Awards but requested it not be made public until after the Feb. 26 Oscars, according to the announcement, “to avoid any conflict of interest with Academy Award best picture winner The Artist.”
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In the letter nominating Weinstein, Sarkozy wrote: “This prestigious distinction, which I wanted to come from my personal allocation, is a testimony of the admiration of millions of French citizens for the exceptional quality of the films that you have produced. It also expresses our gratitude to someone who has always shown great friendship toward our country and our cinema, which you have enabled so many Americans to discover.”
“I am honored and humbled by this recognition from President Sarkozy and the people of France,” said Weinstein in a statement. “All my life, I have loved and been inspired by French cinema. I am still the young boy who walked two miles to The Mayfair movie theater in Flushing, N.Y., to see films by the greats – Lelouch, Godard, Renoir and my personal favorite, François Truffaut. They inspired me and led me to the place I am in today. I hope to continue my friendship with France and its filmmakers for many years to come.”
According to a news release about the honor, the Légion d'Honneur was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is awarded to outstanding individuals who have contributed to France and to the ideals it upholds. Past film-industry recipients include Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Akira Kurosawa, Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Satyajit Ray and Steven Spielberg.