Legendary filmmaker and writer George Lucas has been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. The award is claimed to be the highest honour for a career in film, and was bestowed at a gala tribute ceremony in Los Angeles. The ceremony, which featured the presentation of the award by director Stephen Spielberg and guest appearances by major industry personalities, is to be broadcast on USA Network.
The AFI Life Achievement Award was established by the AFI Board of Trustees in 1973 as an annual honour to recognise the career of a film professional. The original criteria stated: "The recipient should be one whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art; whose accomplishment has been acknowledged by scholars, critics, professional peers and the general public; and whose work has stood the test of time." This criteria was extended in 1993 to include "individuals with active careers and work of significance yet to be accomplished".
Lucas is the 33rd recipient of this prestigious award, although the AFI had previously tried to confer the honour on him but he refused, claiming to be too young. He said then that he would do it when he turned 60. Lucas is now 61. Other recipients of the AFI Life Achievement Award include James Cagney, Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston.