Honoring Harvey Weinstein
New York, April 30, 2012
Cher Harvey Weinstein,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is such a privilege for our outstanding Cultural Counsellor Antonin Baudry, for his team and for me to welcome you all this evening, as we have gathered here tonight to honor Harvey Weinstein, an exceptional individual, a larger than life figure of cinema and a passionate friend of France.
Actually I had the pleasure of welcoming Harvey Weinstein to our Residence in Washington the day before yesterday.
Cher Harvey, we are here to celebrate your incredible talent and success, your fierce independence – another thing that you have in common with us French – and your love affair with my country and with French cinema in particular.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to Harvey’s family and friends who have joined us tonight to show their support and admiration.
With a special word of thanks to Harvey’s wife Georgina Chapman, his mother Madam Miriam Weinstein – we owe both of you a lot too – and his two nieces Sara and Nicole.
I should also recognize so many of you : Bette Midler, and many other very talented actresses and actors, but also Commissioner Ray Kelly and Veronica Kelly, Henry and Marie-José Kravis, Steve and Christine Schwarman, Peter and Mrs. Peterson, Caroline Herrera, Renaud and Christine Dutreil (LVMH), and I could go on and on.
I also want to thank our friend Ron Agam, whose role has been instrumental in making this evening but also the whole process possible.
Cher Harvey, everything you touch seems to turn to gold, or perhaps, every film you lead seems bound to receive a golden statue!
Since 1979, when you first created Miramax Films with your brother Robert, and named the company after your parents Miriam and Max, your story has been filled with hard work, success and passion. You are a man of passion, of infectious passion.
You have collected nearly three hundred Oscar nominations and eighty six awards. You are such a legend in the movie industry that a journalist suggested renaming Hollywood “Harveywood”.
You often repeat and I quote: “All my life I served one master: the film.”
Indeed for three decades, you have been faithfully serving this master, bringing audiences some of the most cutting edge independent films of the century. Among your productions, we all have in mind landmark movies, such as Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, Fahrenheit 9/11 and more recently The King’s Speech.
We are grateful that you looked across the pond at an early age and fostered a love for French cinema. The story began as a fourteen year old boy, when you were moved by watching Les quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows) by François Truffaut at the Mayfair Movie Theater. From that moment on, you discovered the French classics - Lelouch, Godard, and Renoir; all the greats who, you said and I quote, “inspired me and led me to the place I am in today.”
As the President of France said when he bestowed the Legion of Honor upon you a few weeks ago, tonight we honor the little boy from Flushing who never stopped dreaming of other horizons, the little boy who would walk miles to watch French film at the movie theater in the next town.
Your relentless promotion of French cinema in the United States has never failed : Chéreau’s “La Reine Margot”; Leconte’s “Ridicule”; Kieslowski’s “Three colors trilogy”.
In 1996, you made it possible for Juliette Binoche to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “The English Patient”. You were behind the success of Amélie in 2002; of Indigènes, the French nominee for an Oscar in 2007; and today, you are behind Les Intouchables.
I heard the premiere in March was completely sold-out, that the audience had been won over and that an American remake is already in the works…
Last but certainly not least, you are behind the historic success of The Artist and are truly “the Boss,” as Thomas Langmann, the French producer of the movie, fondly calls you.
I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to celebrate you and your légion d’honneur tonight. For us, this event is deeply symbolic. It illustrates the love story between American and French cinema that you so well embody. And as the success of The Artist and other Oscar winners have shown, cette histoire d’amour is stronger than ever.
Actually The Artist, is a declaration of love to American silent films and a tribute to Hollywood.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Legion of Honor was created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte to reward outstanding services rendered to France and extraordinary accomplishments.
It is France’s highest award and one of the most coveted distinctions in the world.
So tonight on behalf of France it is a great privilege for me to pay tribute to you.
I will now give the floor to Nicolas Rachline, Editor-in-Chief of Above Magazine and a dear friend of Harvey, but before that, Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in congratulating and applauding Harvey Weinstein.