Wong Kar Wai Feted at Thierry Fremaux's Lyon Lumiere Festival

Wong Kar Wai Getty H 2016
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Wong Kar Wai Getty H 2016

The 'In the Mood for Love' director received a career honor at the fest.

The audience at this year's Lumiere Film Festival was in the mood for love, with Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux, directors Olivier Assayas and Bertrand Tavernier and actress Isabelle Adjani celebrating filmmaker Wong Kar Wai in a lavish ceremony Friday night in Lyon, France.

The ceremony was marked by emotional speeches — Assayas (who is divorced from In the Mood for Love star Maggie Cheung) called Wong “a grand poet of cinema” — and raucous routines.

Zhang Ziyi sent a video message, telling her Grandmaster director that he “should get awards everyday.”

Wong's longtime cinematographer Christopher Doyle also took the stage with a funny, F-bomb laden speech. He said that when shooting, Wong will ask him daily, "Is that the best that you can do?" Once his first instinct is overridden, the answer is "You’re right, I can do more — fuck you very much!” he joked, noting that working with Wong is a pleasure.

“The pleasure of the process is why it takes five years,” Doyle joked of Wong's notoriously long filming times, quickly adding: “Five years later you’re hearing, ‘We have to go to Cannes.' ... So maybe we should stop shooting now?” he joked of their current film in progress.

Adjani presented the golden plaque — previously awarded to Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese — wearing dark sunglasses. She joked that it was a tribute to Wong's signature style.

Wong himself appeared extremely touched, following a two-plus-hour tribute to his work on the screen. He dedicated the prize to his wife and producer, Esther Wong, calling her his "muse" and asking her to join him onstage. "Of all the great female characters I have created in my films, there are always glimpses of her there," he said. "That is the reason why her name is always the first to appear onscreen in all of my films."

Wong led the audience through the history of Chinese and Hong Kong film, as well as through the work of Chinese magicians in the early 1900s.

“Cinema is the biggest magic in the world,” he said.

The awards ceremony was followed by a gala dinner, during which Wong was presented the key to the city by Lyon Mayor Georges Kepenekian

The legendary crooner Charles Aznavour also attended the dinner, and even sang a few notes in honor of Wong.