Mike Leigh, riding high following the enthusiastic critical response to Happy-Go-Lucky at the Berlinale, will receive the inaugural Founder's Directing Award at the 51st San Francisco International Film Festival, which runs from Apr 24-May 8.

The Founder's Award will be presented to Leigh at the Film Society Awards Night benefit gala on May 1 and will be presented each year to a master film-maker in memory of festival founder Irving M Levin.

The presentation will occur after a clip reel, on-stage interview and screening of Leigh's 1999 film Topsy-Turvy.

'Mike Leigh is an extraordinary director who has forged a singular path in world cinema over a long and brilliant career,' Graham Leggat, executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, said.

'We are delighted to welcome him back to the International on the heels of his well-deserved success at this year's Berlinale.'