The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) is working with the John Ford Estate and the Irish Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,  to establish a new annual symposium devoted to the work and legacy of John Ford.

Clint Eastwood has today received the symposium’s inaugural John Ford Award, which will be selected each year by a committee to recognise one contemporary filmmaker “who has similar incredible skill and vision as Ford. A filmmaker who has learned from the mastery of John Ford and who best represents Ford’s legacy and ideals to the world – an individuality, a uniqueness of vision, an artistic talent that is admired and enjoyed by audiences throughout the world.” 

The symposium, titled John Ford Ireland, will be an annual event in Dublin starting in June 2012. More details of the symposium will be announced in the new year. The great American director’s parents were raised in the west coast of Ireland and his work involved many Irish themes over his 60-year career.

IFTA Chief Executive Áine Moriarty said: “Clint Eastwood is one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, a unique visionary who is leaving his legacy to the world, just as John Ford has done in his lifetime. His films have great integrity and connect with people from ‘all walks of life’ around the world.  Themes of migration, identity, redemption and faith in the human spirit – these are his themes, as they were Ford’s.”

Eastwood added: “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.”