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Francis Ford Coppola

Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts 2015

I am especially touched by the fact that almost 50 years ago at the very beginning of my film career, again in Spain, I was granted the 'Concha de Oro’ prize at the San Sebastian film festival in 1967. So these two milestones define my creative career, and always in Spain.

Suspended between these two important occasions, I find myself filled with many of the same emotions and ambitions I had then at the age of 28. I continue to desire to explore the future possibilities of this absolutely magical form of Literature: the Cinema. Beginning as I did between the two influences of Hollywood movie making and the exciting cinema from Europe and Japan through the 1950's; I and others of my generation were doubly inspired. Hollywood movie making as the world's most influential entertainment form, as in the work of Wyler, Hitchcock, Wilder, Vidor and many other greats, colliding with another cinema form aiming more as Literature; illuminating contemporary life with authorship and artistry expanding boundaries as in the work of Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini, Rossellini and Buñuel -- That mix of two extremes of the cinema proposition inspired all of my generation - and we tried to do both. Can Art also serve as Entertainment as defined by these two currents - and we felt yes, certainly - that has always been the goal.

Thousands of years ago at the birth of drama the audiences were both thrilled and enlightened as they watched the ideas and forms evolving, leaving them in awe.

Even now the cinema, little more than one hundred years old, is changing and moving in directions not quite revealed to us, but which we long try to experiment with. We remain cinema pioneers as we push forward to a time when our children and grandchildren inherit our beloved cinema, and change it beyond our ability to imagine.

All performing art is a creation and by-product of technology. At the very beginning that technology was fire which illuminated the scenes or pictures as our first ancestors made by the charred wooden stick which stirred the fire. There were many technological steps following; the mechanical stage machines and lighting devices changing into the moving image, distant electric vision and ultimately combined with sound and color. Always any technological improvement is always first as as pornography, and 'storytelling' comes immediately after.

Now the cinema covers all territories of the earth as a electronic medium, with all elements: projectors, cameras, editorial capability all being digital devices, and the medium itself beamed to everywhere via satellite and internet broadband. I can remember over 30 years ago, when I was invited to discuss movies with a generation of Spanish filmmakers, and I spoke about electronic editing, and new developments in cameras and projectors and one young film maker raised his hand and said "We just managed to get an Arriflex to work with and now you're telling us that we're going to still be behind!" Of course the good news about this continual technical development is that the price keeps falling, and everyone can have a digital camera in their hands.

And at the same time, the medium itself is undergoing change: in the nature of the screenwriting itself, exploring new techniques of the basics: point of view; narrative style, stream-of-consciousness and a new combination of the Documentary and Fiction films. Beyond that, there is LIVE CINEMA, NETWORKED CINEMA and VIRTUAL REALITY cinema will give filmmakers and artist the chance to experiment within those new frontiers of the information age, and the results - and ultimately the cinema literature our great grandchildren will create will be as different from what we do now as can be, but in fact an extension of it.

This is the real thrill of the human species, that each generation children can run faster, leap higher, play musical instruments with uncanny technical excellence and dream bigger newer cinematic expressions than we can even guess at.

Something I have noticed during the excitement of this Asturias honor: the assumption that a filmmaker and the fame it brings, is capable of using the cinema to solve the problems of the world. In my own land, Italy, its thought that I have the power to reverse the indignity and injustice that southern Italy has suffered, or even here during the banquet in Asturias that I have the power to influence the many horrors and injustices that our world still suffers; that I am in a position to solve the many difficulties in the Middle East which grew out of deceptions performed during the First World War. Magare! Oh that it would be so, but unfortunately such power is not mine. The CINEMA may one day be able to perform such miracles, but for the time being it is like Prometheus, bound by the chains of 'commerciality', controlled and neutralized in the name of risk-free profits; and so I stand before you less like the KNIGHT ERRANT OF THE WOEFUL FACE, Don Quixote del La Mancha, but more his squire SANCHO, wanting only NOT to be continually tossed in blankets and whipped by the strange opponents this Master of mine keeps tangling with, but just to take care of my donkey and maybe have a good meal. However as Sancho Panza noted: "When good fortune comes knocking at the door, hurry up and let her in." and on the subject of prizes, in Cervantes words:

"you should try to win second prize; because the first prize is always a personal favor orin recognition of the poet's social status, the second prize is won on pure merit and thethird prize is really the second prize, just as happens with university degrees. But in spite of that, the name "First" does cut a fine figure"!

And so for that I thank you most humbly.

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