After his company successfully brought French film "The Artist" to win big at the 2012 Academy Awards, Harvey Weinstein is set to receive the country's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur. French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on Friday, March 2 that the film producer will be honored in recognition of his contributions to cinema and decades of work producing highly regarded films.
Weinstein already knew about the honor even before this year's Academy Awards took place, but he requested to keep it private until after the Oscars. The action was taken to "avoid any conflict of interest with Academy Award Best Picture winner 'The Artist'."
The co-founder of The Weinstein Company was nominated by President Sarkozy himself. In a letter dedicated to the movie mogul, the French leader 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 towards our country and our cinema, which you have enabled so many Americans to discover," so the president stated.
Responding to President Sarkozy's letter, Weinstein said in a statement, "I am honored and humbled by this recognition from President Sarkozy and the people of France." He gushed, "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 theaters in Flushing, NY to see films by the greats - Lelouch, Godard, Renoir and my personal favorite Francois Truffaut," Weinstein added. "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."
The Legion d'Honneur is France's oldest and highest distinction, which was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. The award is dedicated to individuals who have contributed to France and to the ideals it upholds. Past recipients of the prestigious honor included Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Akira Kurosawa, Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Satyajit Ray and Steven Spielberg.