The Directors Guild of America (DGA) will bestow its highest honour on Martin Scorsese when it presents the veteran film-maker with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th Annual DGA Awards on Mar 1. Announcing the decision today (Jan 16), DGA president Martha Coolidge said this would be only the 30th time that the discretionary honour had been handed out in the guild's 67-year history. "Because of his remarkable, groundbreaking films, his nurturing of young film-makers, and his ever-vigilant fight to preserve the legacy of motion picture for future generations, it is my pleasure to announce that Martin Scorsese has joined this group of film giants," Coolidge said in a statement.

Scorsese's latest picture, Gangs Of New York, follows a rich vein of work spanning four decades that includes Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, King Of Comedy, Goodfellas, Casino and The Age Of Innocence. Despite critical acclaim and a cast-iron reputation as one of the greatest living directors, Scorsese has never won the Best Director Oscar.

Since the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award was first presented to Cecil B De Mille in 1953, winners have included Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder and Frank Capra. The five nominees for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2002 will be announced on Jan 21.