The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA), in association with the John Ford Estate and the Irish Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, this week announced the establishment of ‘JOHN FORD IRELAND' - an annual Symposium celebrating the work and legacy of John Ford.
Ford, an Irish-American whose parents were raised in the West coast of Ireland - was a Pioneer of Cinema and created some of the most enduring films in cinematic history, combining exceptional creativity and innovative storytelling genius in a body of work (136 films) which spanned almost 60 years.
Ford's films are recognized amongst the best films ever made such as The Grapes of Wrath, How Green was my Valley, Stagecoach and The Searchers (the greatest American Western of all time says the American Film Institute). Ireland and Irish themes featured heavily in numerous FORD films and he took great pride in employing Irish talent including Ireland's Abbey players (Sara Allgood, Barry Fitzgerald etc) who went to Hollywood to work with Ford.
The inaugural award was presented to actor/director Clint Eastwood, who said "Thank You. This is a great privilege for me because any kind of association with John Ford is most Directors' dream as he was certainly a pioneer of American filmmaking and I grew up on his films. His Westerns had a great influence on me, as I think they had on everybody. When I worked with Sergio Leone years ago in Italy, his favourite Director was John Ford and he spoke very openly about that influence. I want to thank everybody who is here from the Irish Academy, the John Ford family and thank you to John Ford Ireland."