Ten days before the Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) opens, the board has announced that celebrated producer Jan Chapman is to receive the 2009 Don Dunstan Award, which recognizes outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry.

Chapman's filmmaking spans 16 years and includes the period love story The Piano, which was nominated for a best film Oscar, and the highly emotional Lantana, which won best film at the 2001 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards. She first spent a decade making television drama.

Chapman's upcoming film is the UK/Australian period drama Bright Star, made with UK producer Caroline Hewitt. Ben Whishaw plays John Keats, before he became known as a great poet, and Abbie Cornish his lover and muse. It is to be released mid-year in Australia by Hopscotch and Pathe is handling international sales.

Chapman is known for her attention to detail and painstaking approach to development and has worked repeatedly with the directors Jane Campion and Shirley Barrett.

She has already won most of the country's highest film honours including the Raymond Longford Award at the 1997 AFIs and the Chauvel Award at the Brisbane International Film Festival in 2002. Both are named after pioneering Australian filmmakers. She also has an Order of Australia.

'I'm very touched to be selected by the Board of the Adelaide Festival to receive the Don Dunstan Award this year since it is in honour of someone who had such a deep commitment to the arts, especially film,' said Chapman in a statement issued today.

'I feel proud to be amongst a list that includes the previous recipients and that this award recognizes the continued importance for Australian cultural life of an active and distinct film industry.' she added.

AFF chair Cheryl Bart said 'passionate, supportive and intelligent producers are a major resource in a film industry such as Australia's whose financial basis is constantly in question. Chapman's energy and vision are legendary, as is her generosity and support of younger film makers,' she added.

Dunstan is a former Premier of the state of South Australia.