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Woody Allen

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 2002

A great American comedian of the past had -Jack Benny- the very best line for such as stupendous occasion as this. When he won a very prestigious award, he said: "I don´t deserve this award, but I have diabetes.., and I don't deserve that either". This is how I feel this evening. I don't deserve this, but I am very deeply honoured.

To be honoured in a European country is particularly meaningful to me. I grew up in a era where cinema was dominated completely by American films, and I enjoyed them very much as a little boy, they were very charming.

But was only after World War II that there was a great influence of European films in the United States, and I was a young man by that time, did any of us realise the potential cinema had to really be an art form?. Suddenly those of us who have been brought up on this very commercial American movies found themselves seeing films by Fellini, Buñuel, Kurosawa, De Sica. These films had enormous impact on all of us at the time. They were the talk of the city, and the talk of all of us who were interested in cinema. And this was the golden age of European cinema.

Actually, the United States has come upon what I think is a very uncreative period of movie making. The studios only conceive their projects for profit exclusively, and these are not thoughtful movies. They are films that glorify technology as an end in itself, and the human element has been completely lost.

Now only the in the European cinema again we are starting to see there are things that are really meaningful. It is extremely difficult for a thinking person to find anything to see in a Saturday night in the United States. It is only the few European films that find their way to the United States, not just Europe, but also films from the Middle East, from Iran, from China, from Japan, from South America. These films are the films that are most interesting and the most provocative and the most substantial to those of us who still regard movie making and cinema watching as an art form.

And I want to be brief and just say that we look to European film makers for leadership at this point. The leadership is not coming from the United States. The interest, as I say, in the United States is in the production of film, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars are money lost. The advertising of a single film to open it up in the United States is like all the money Buñuel spent in his entire life making films, and the situation is got completely out of hand. And those of us who still have hope for the cinema as an art form look to the European film makers. When I left New York, the most exciting film in the city of the time was Spanish, Pedro Almodovar´s one.

I hope that Europeans will continue to lead the way in film making because at the moment is not coming from the United States. Thank you very much.

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