Sony Pictures Classics' Michael Barker, Tom Bernard to Receive Legion of Honor

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The duo will be presented with France's highest military and civil honor on Sept. 22

Sony Pictures Classics co-founders and co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard will receive France's highest military and civil honor on Sept. 22.

The duo will be presented with the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor at the French embassy in New York. 

Mamadou Diouf, Leitner Family Professor of African Studies and the director of Columbia University's Institute for African Studies, will also be honored at the same event.

France is honoring Barker and Bernard for their support of French cinema. The duo has led Sony Pictures Classics to become the No. 1 French film distributor in America and demonstrate a longstanding commitment to promoting French directors including Francois Truffaut, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Bertrand Blier, Louis Malle and Eric Rohmer.

“Professor Diouf, Mr. Barker, and Mr. Bernard are the real figures in our world who are making crucial connections between French and American cultures, in vastly different ways: Mr. Barker and Mr. Bernard, by transporting the essence of France to screens across America, and Professor Diouf, by engaging students from Paris, New York, and around the world to converse, discuss, and debate history and the present," said French Minister Laurent Fabius in a statement. "These individuals are breaking down the barriers of national borders and creating bridges between intellectual and cultural spheres while also enriching a trans-continental cultural dialogue.”

Other entertainment names who have joined the Legion include Bob Dylan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Lewis, Walt Disney and David Lynch.

Barker and Bernard founded Sony Pictures Classics in December 1992. The films that Bernard and Barker have released earned 32 Oscars — 28 of those since founding SPC. The company's upcoming films include Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher and Sundance winner Whiplash.

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