John Ford Annual Award

The inaugural John Ford Award presented to Clint Eastwood

The JOHN FORD Award honours the legacy of John Ford and is presented to a world-renowned filmmaker for his/her body of work and has been inspired by, and learned from, the work of Ford.


"I like the old masters, by which I mean John Ford, John Ford and John Ford."


The JOHN FORD Award recipient is a filmmaker who has an individuality, a uniqueness of vision and distinctive artistic talent - a contemporary director whose career continues the legacy of great filmmaking and storytelling. The recipient's work is admired by critics and cinema lovers alike, akin to that of the great movie master John Ford.








John Ford Award 2017

Martin Scorsese

Revered genius of modern cinema


The Award was presented to Scorsese by President Michael D Higgins immediately after the renowned Director delivered a two-hour Masterclass to hundreds of Irish filmmakers in the ballroom, moderated by Northern Irish Director Brian Kirk


"It is a great honour for the Irish Academy to present this John Ford Award to Martin Scorsese, truly one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. We thank Martin for his support for the Academy and our work, and for taking the time to share his great knowledge and expertise with our Irish filmmakers here in Dublin – we look forward to a brilliant, inspiring and passionate Masterclass and Discussion with Scorsese at the helm ."


Áine Moriarty, Chief Executive of the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) and JOHN FORD Ireland Committee Member


President Higgins said he was honoured to be asked to present the award to Scorsese saying:

“How timely this award is, bestowed on a provocateur of the possibilities of film, by a young, energetic Irish film community that is receiving recognition for its courage and excellence. How timely, too, for us to be reminded that what art makes possible is the emancipation of our sensibilities from any acceptance of the inevitability of a weary indifference to suffering.


“His half century of film craft gives us reason to see how the image presented in the form that is film encourages us to believe in the future, and that the endless possibilities of our humanity, if not yet realised, are ever more important, and in dark times even more than the flickering times of light.


“It is a pleasure to present the John Ford Award of the Irish Film and Television Academy to maestro Martin Scorsese”.



"To be honoured by the Irish Film & Television Academy and to receive an award created in celebration of John Ford’s artistry and prestige, has great personal significance for me.” "

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorses on accepting the John Ford Award

Upon his acceptance, Scorsese was visibly moved from the genuine and undeniable respect and adulation pouring forth from the packed ballroom of Irish filmmakers, who recognized that this was a great Master of the craft in their midst.

He humbly accepted the Award, and said


“I am deeply honoured. What beautiful words Mr. President. This is so surreal because, it’s like a dream you know, because I walked in off the street and saw these films and somehow there’s no doubt as I said the first name that I associated with cinema and great, great work was Ford. So for me, to receive this, to be honoured in this way, and to receive this welcome. How long has it been? 1998 I was here last; a long time ago and I always wanted to get back to Dublin. I never thought I was going to be receiving something like this; it’s from another time and place, another time and place.”


He finished by telling the auditorium he would like to see more Irish films and said


“Go reinvent cinema, go ahead. I’ve done mine, now it’s up to you.”



About Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese is an American director, producer, screenwriter, and film historian, whose career spans more than 50 years. Born in 1942, Scorsese is known for his gritty, meticulous filmmaking style and is widely regarded as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in cinematic history. Scorsese's body of work addresses such themes as Sicilian-American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, faith, machismo, modern crime, and gang conflict. Many of his films are also known for their depiction of violence and liberal use of profanity.


In 1990, he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation. He is a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to the cinema, and has won an Academy Award, a Palme d'Or, Cannes Film Festival Best Director Award, Silver Lion, Grammy Award, Emmys, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and DGA Awards.


He has directed landmark films such as the crime film Mean Streets (1973), the vigilante-thriller Taxi Driver (1976), the biographical sports drama Raging Bull (1980), the black comedy The King of Comedy (1983), the religious epic drama The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), the crime film Goodfellas (1990), the psychological thriller Cape Fear (1991) and the crime film Casino (1995), some of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro. Scorsese has also been noted for his successful collaborations with actor Leonardo DiCaprio, having directed him in five films, beginning with Gangs of New York (2002) and most recently The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Their third film together, The Departed, won Scorsese the Academy Award for Best Director in addition to the film winning the award for Best Picture. Their collaborations have resulted in numerous Academy Award nominations for both as well as them winning several other prestigious awards.


Scorsese's other notable films include the concert film The Last Waltz (1978), the black comedy After Hours (1985), the biographical drama The Aviator (2004), the psychological thriller Shutter Island (2010), the historical adventure drama Hugo (2011) and the religious epic Silence (2016). His work in television includes the pilot episode of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire and Vinyl, the latter of which he also co-created. With eight Best Director nominations, he is the most nominated living director and is tied with Billy Wilder for the second most nominations overall.



A legacy of Individuality, Unique Vision & Artistic Talent


Michael Collins, Irish Ambassador to the US, 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.


As a filmmaker Clint Eastwood is inspirational.

"His films have great integrity, connecting with people from ‘all walks of life’ around the world. He is the master story-teller with a perceptive intelligence, delivering each narrative with a simplicity and sparseness that underlines a depth of emotional connection with his characters and the audience. Themes of migration, identity, loss, guilt, redemption, and faith in the human spirit – these are his themes, as they were Ford’s; whether that be in the LA suburbs, in the ‘wild west’ or in, like Ford, the West of Ireland."

Áine Moriarty, Chief Executive of the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) and JOHN FORD Ireland Committee Member

"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."



Ambassador Michael Collins and Clint Eastwood in
Los Angeles

About Clint Eastwood and John Ford:

“Clint Eastwood shares with John Ford the journey west in pursuit of the American dream but like Ford, he is also aware that dreams are for worlds that are lost or endangered, as much as kingdoms yet to come.

Yeats’s isle of Innisfree is at the centre of Ford’s The Quiet Man, where an American, Sean Thornton, scared by the violence of the boxing ring, re-connects with the submerged culture of his immigrant background. In Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, Yeats’s ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ allows another man with a shattered past, the boxing trainer Frankie Dunn, to salvage the remnants of his ideals through belief in his own ‘Macushla’, Maggie Fitzgerald.

It is this ability to turn unrequited pasts into visions of the future that marks the achievement of both Clint Eastwood and John Ford, reconnecting the Hollywood dream itself with the lives of those who pick up the pieces in their everyday lives.”

Luke Gibbons, JOHN FORD Ireland Committee Member & Professor at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth

“At the heart of John Ford’s films is a commitment to the family and community, though this is often tempered by the actions of the outsider, the loner who defines the community through his difference. In America, the Irish were part of the national community, yet they were set apart from it by their other national allegiance.

Eastwood’s directorial sense of what formed and informs America is close to Ford’s, most especially the migrant’s or the underdog’s distance from the ‘establishment’.

Over almost a century of directing, John Ford (from 1917–64) and Clint Eastwood (from 1971) have explored the pulse of America, its complex, multi-dimensional character. Whether their films are informed by the direct Irish ancestry of Ford, or Eastwood’s combination of Irish, Scottish and English roots, which perhaps reflects more fully the island of Ireland’s ethnic diversity, the comparisons between the two are all the more intriguing and productive. In this regard, it is revealing that one of Eastwood’s favourite films is Ford’s ‘autobiographical’ How Green Was My Valley (1941), a film of displaced Irishness in a Welsh setting.”

Kevin Rockett, JOHN FORD Ireland Committee Member, Professor in the Department of Film Studies, Trinity College, Dublin.