Áine Moriarty IFTA Chief Executive, Michael Collins Irish Ambassador to the US, Clint Eastwood and Dan Ford

The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA), in association with the John Ford Estate and the Irish Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is delighted to announce the establishment of ‘JOHN FORD IRELAND’ – the annual Symposium celebrating the work and legacy of John Ford. American filmmaker CLINT EASTWOOD (J. Edgar, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby) has received the inaugural JOHN FORD AWARD.

The Irish Film & Television Academy will through JOHN FORD IRELAND, lay the foundations for honouring, examining and learning from the work and legacy of legendary filmmaker John Ford, who is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers of his generation. An annual gathering in Dublin will celebrate Ford’s ongoing influence on contemporary Cinema. The Academy is working closely with leading Ford authorities, enthusiasts, experts and Academics throughout the world to bring the legacy of Ford back home to Ireland (see details on the Symposium below).

Ford, an Irish-American whose parents were raised in the West coast of Ireland – was a Pioneer of Cinema and created some of the most enduring films in cinematic history, combining exceptional creativity and innovative storytelling genius in a body of work (136 films) which spanned almost 60 years.

Ford’s films are recognized amongst the best films ever made such as The Grapes of Wrath, How Green was my Valley, Stagecoach and The Searchers (the greatest American Western of all time says the American Film Institute). Ireland and Irish themes featured heavily in numerous FORD films and he took great pride in employing Irish talent including Ireland’s Abbey players (Sara Allgood, Barry Fitzgerald etc) who went to Hollywood to work with Ford.


Each year the JOHN FORD IRELAND committee, which consists of leading international experts on John Ford, will select one contemporary filmmaker to be presented with the JOHN FORD Award; a filmmaker who has similar incredible skill and vision as FORD. A Filmmaker who has learned from the mastery of JOHN FORD and who best represents Ford’s legacy and ideals to the world – an individuality, a uniqueness of vision, an artistic talent that is admired and enjoyed by audiences throughout the world.

Clint Eastwood receives the inaugural JOHN FORD AWARD

ÁINE MORIARTY, Chief Executive of the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) and MICHAEL COLLINS, Irish Ambassador to the US, unveiled the plans for the JOHN FORD IRELAND project and presented the inaugural JOHN FORD AWARD to Clint Eastwood at a reception held in Burbank, California which was attended by members of the Ford family including DAN FORD, author and grandson of John Ford.

Presenting the Award to Mr. Eastwood, Ambassador Michael Collins said:

‘I am honoured to meet with Clint Eastwood and to present him with the inaugural John Ford Award. John Ford was one of the world’s greatest filmmakers and a man who also took great pride in his Irish heritage. The selection of Clint Eastwood as the recipient of this inaugural John Ford Award draws a direct line between two of Hollywood’s greatest and most inspirational and creative figures. I salute the Irish Film and Television Academy for this initiative and wish them well with their plans to host the first John Ford Ireland annual Symposium in Ireland next year.’

IFTA Chief Executive Áine Moriarty said:

‘Clint Eastwood is one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, a unique visionary who is leaving his legacy to the world, just as John Ford has done in his lifetime. His films have great integrity and connect with people from ‘all walks of life’ around the world. Themes of migration, identity, redemption and faith in the human spirit – these are his themes, as they were Ford’s. The Irish Film and Television Academy along with the John Ford Estate is proud to present the very first John Ford Award to Mr. Clint Eastwood.’

Receiving the JOHN FORD Award, Clint Eastwood said:

‘Thank You. This is a great privilege for me because any kind of association with John Ford is most Directors’ dream as he was certainly a pioneer of American filmmaking and I grew up on his films. His Westerns had a great influence on me, as I think they had on everybody. When I worked with Sergio Leone years ago in Italy, his favourite Director was John Ford and he spoke very openly about that influence. I want to thank everybody who is here from the Irish Academy, the John Ford family and thank you to John Ford Ireland.’

Speaking at the presentation, Dan Ford, grandson of John Ford commented:

‘I would like to thank the Irish Film & Television Academy on behalf of my grandfather and the entire Ford family for this initiative. I know he would be extremely proud of the Academy and where the Irish film industry is today, for many years he was an active participant in trying to establish an Irish film industry. If he was alive today he would not only be happy to receive this Award but be very pleased with the amount of film activity that currently goes on in Ireland.’

JOHN FORD IRELAND – Symposium (Dublin, JUNE 2012)

Plans are now underway for the first JOHN FORD IRELAND SYMPOSIUM, an event which aims to honor, examine and learn from Ford’s great work; his many approaches, themes and influences and his ongoing influence on Cinema today. Scheduled to take place in Dublin in June 2012, attracting both public and industry participation from around the world, the Symposium’s diverse programme of events will include a series of screenings, exhibitions, discussions, masterclasses, lectures and public interviews designed to educate, inform and inspire participants by providing insight into the experiences of specially invited guests speakers/experts – a MUST for movie enthusiasts around the world, especially fans of John Ford.

In addition, in the Symposium’s second year, a Film School and Scholarship programme will be established for new filmmaking talent to visit Ireland and attend the JOHN FORD FILM SCHOOL. The annual international participation will enhance Ireland’s local industry’s links with world filmmakers. A Ford exhibition of photographs, documents & memorabilia will also be showcased to the public at a free FORD exhibition.


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