Martin Scorsese Honored at TCM Classic Film Festival Opening Night

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Mel Brooks and Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio presented the auteur with the inaugural Robert Osborne Award in Hollywood on Thursday night.

The TCM Classic Film Festival honored Martin Scorsese with the inaugural Robert Osborne Award on Thursday night for his dedication to the preservation of classic and historically significant films. The award was presented by actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, a friend of Scorsese’s and a frequent collaborator who's starred in five of the director's films.

The classic-movie festival, hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, runs from April 26-29. The fest kicked things off with a screening of the world-premiere restoration of Mel Brooks' satirical comedy The Producers, starring Gene Wilder and Kenneth Mars, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The 91-year-old Brooks was excited to see his film on the silver screen once again. "I’m so thrilled that we’re seeing The Producers 50 years later on a big screen; we’re not seeing it on a watch or a television — and that’s what scares me," he said from the TCL Chinese Theatre stage. "What’s thrilling is that this is still very relevant, it’s still exciting. We’re celebrating old movies, which I make!"

John Martin, CEO of Turner, discussed the mission of the film festival and its dedication to the preservation and value of classic films. “This is about tapping into fans and people’s emotions, tapping into what people like to engage with, where they like to spend their time.”

He also shared his thoughts on Scorsese winning the award and the value of the acclaimed director's work in the world of film. "This film festival has been wildly successful for years. We had the idea to raise the game a little bit and honor a filmmaker. Martin Scorsese is one of a kind. You can probably count on one hand the number of filmmakers who’ve had so much of an impact on the world," he said.

Comedian Dennis Miller also found no one better suited for the award than Scorsese: “With Scorsese ... nobody does it better, nobody with a more encyclopedic knowledge, nobody does the rough streets better. He’s truly a man of all tricks.”

Robert Osborne, the host of Turner Classic Movies who passed away last year, was also honored posthumously. Actress Eva Marie Saint (North by Northwest, On the Waterfront) was a close friend of Osborne's and worked extensively with him throughout her career. "I worked with Robert Osborne a lot, and I just enjoyed him, and it was such a good experience, and [TCM] showing the movies is such a wonderful station," said Saint. "There are movies that I haven’t seen in a long time, and it’s fun to sit there and watch it. They make such a wonderful contribution."

The film festival was also dedicated to Osborne and his many years of commitment to TCM.