Steven Spielberg nimmt den AFI Life Achievement Award aus den Händen seines Mentors Sid Sheinberg entgegen. Bei der Zeremonie versöhnt sich Spielberg mit seinem Vater Arnold, der neben Spielbergs Mutter Leah sitzt.
Zur Begründung der Preisverleihung geben die Jurymitglieder des American Film Institute folgendes Statement ab (gekürzt):
“The youngest recipient of this award, Spielberg is one of the finest talents of his generation and the most commercially successful filmmaker in the history of the cinema.
Some may believe that such overwhelming popularity must indicate a lack of serious artistic intent. But Spielberg has proved repeatedly that intelligent, heartfelt cinema can hold a mass public spellbound. Success on the scale of Spielberg’s is only possible when an emotional and visceral chord is struck deep in audiences’ hearts and minds. His films’ images and ideas of hope, beauty, excitement and nobility speak to the best that is in us. (…)
Spielberg made his mark in television first, but his work was always distinguished by its cinematic style. DUEL (1971), that nail-biting exercise in pure kinetic cinema, was an eye-opener, signaling to everyone who was paying attention that a striking new talent was on the scene. (…)
Ironically, Spielberg is often classified as a filmmaker of sentimental fantasy, but his range of subject matter and his variety of cinematic style are impressive. Indeed, you can scan the history of Hollywood without finding a parallel to his remarkable achievement of 1993 when, within the space of a few months, Spielberg released JURASSIC PARK and SCHINDLER’S LIST: one, a brilliant and exhilarating masterpiece of special effects, the other, a bitter, moving and heartfelt exploration of this century’s greatest tragedy. Few filmmakers, past or present, have been capable of such diverse statements, so perfectly realized, within so brief a span of time.
Steven Spielberg’s Life Achievement Award comes to him at a time when, conceivably, his best days are still to come. Consider some of the other directors who have received this honor: John Ford, Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, David Lean. When they were Spielberg’s age they had THE SEARCHERS, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, VERTIGO, SOME LIKE IT HOT and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA ahead of them.
With the magical and memorable body of work he has already produced, just try and imagine what treasures Steven Spielberg still has in store.“
In seiner Dankesrede widmet Spielberg den Preis seinen zwei wertvollsten Mitarbeitern, Filmkomponist John Williams und Cutter Michael Kahn, sowie seinen Eltern und seiner Familie.
Spielberg ist ein AFI-Stiftungsmitglied seit 1986.