Woody Allen is set to receive Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts at the hand of the country's Prince Felipe next October, an honour which could lift the director's spirit this week as he defends his highly publicised lawsuit against producer Jean Doumanian.

A sparse turnout in the Manhattan courtroom for Allen's high-profile case - which alleges that Doumanian and her Sweetland Films partner Jaqui Safra owe him some $12m on profits off eight films they made together - combined with the poor box office showing of his recent film Hollywood Ending, led the New York Times this week to declare that the director's reign as cultural icon 'may be over.'

But that image clashes with the enthusiastic reception today in Spain over news of Allen's selection for the highly regarded Principe de Asturias Award. The jury cited his 'great creative talent' and 'ironic sensibility' which have 'established a bridge of union between American and European cinema, to the benefit of both.' Local critics and filmmakers lauded the selection.

Allen was chosen out of 43 nominations in artistic disciplines spanning architecture, film, dance, sculpture, music and painting. The award recognises his 'contribution to the cultural heritage of Humanity' and comes with a purse of Euros 50,000.