TORONTO — Acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg was awarded France’s Legion of Honour on Wednesday, a distinction he said left him “incoherent with joy and pride.”
France’s ambassador to Canada, Francois Delattre, bestowed the prestigious medal on behalf of President Nicolas Sarkozy in a private ceremony in Toronto.
Although proudly Canadian, Cronenberg said he also felt a strong connection to France.
“I feel that France is also my country, another parent who has been proudly indulgent when it has been best and sternly critical when that was best, all for the benefit of David, their spoiled child,” Cronenberg, dressed in a black suit, said in a brief bilingual ceremony.
“Thank you all for your indulgence. Vive la France, vive le Canada et vive la cinema”.
The ceremony, held on the top floor of a downtown trade centre, was attended by Cronenberg’s wife Carolyn and children Cassandra, Caitlin and Brandon.
The medal, France’s highest honour, designates Cronenberg a “knight in the order” and recognizes outstanding service to France.
His deep catalogue of films include the horrors Dead Ringers, Scanners and The Fly, as well as the more recent gangland thrillers, Eastern Promises and A History of Violence. Cronenberg said the award was a validation of his sometimes controversial artistic choices.
“France has always understood the complexity of the artistic process — the tension that exists between the innate wildness of art and the desired order of society,” Cronenberg told the crowd.
Delattre praised Cronenberg for his ability to invent new worlds and complex characters, and for his dedication to making Toronto a world-renowned venue for filmmaking.
Cronenberg, who lived in France in the early ’70s, was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1990, and is an honorary citizen in three French cities.
His cinematic achievements there include a Cannes Film Festival prize for 1996’s Crash, and a critics’ prize for 1983’s The Dead Zone. He also served as president of the Cannes jury in 1999.