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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 10:52 GMT
UK film honours Robert Altman
Robert Altman
Robert Altman has had three Oscar nominations
US film director Robert Altman has received the British Film Institute's prestigious Fellowship award.

The presentation was held at the National Film Theatre in London, when the film-maker, who has had three Oscar nominations, gave an interview on stage about his life and work.

It was the BFI's 52nd Fellowship, which is given to individuals from around the world in recognition of their outstanding contribution to film and television culture.

The award is the highlight of the NFT's extensive tribute to Kansas-born Altman, 75, during January and February.

Previous winners include Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Sir John Mills, Lord Attenborough, Sir Alec Guinness, Martin Scorsese and Dame Maggie Smith.

Altman: Described as "one of the very best"
It is showing new prints of at least seven of his films, including one of MASH (1970), the black comedy starring Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould as anarchic surgeons serving US troops during the Korean war.

The movie established Altman as a major Hollywood player, and inspired the highly successful, long-running TV series.

The NFT is also showing Short Cuts, The Player, The Long Goodbye, Nashville and A Wedding, as well as a retrospective of some of his early television work.

BFI chair Joan Bakewell said she was delighted that they were to recognise Altman's "extraordinary career".

She described him as "one of the most independent and influential of all directors" who has also written and produced much of his own material.

The BFI is screening a two-month Altman tribute
"His films, shot with a sceptical, analytical eye, possess a distinctive style and often a complex structure. At the age of 75, he shows no sign of letting up," she added.

The BFI's Geoff Andrew paid tribute to Altman on its website, saying: "He is undeniably one of the most idiosyncratic, influential and stubbornly independent [film-makers].

"For many, however, myself included, he is also one of the very best, his only serious rivals being John Cassavetes, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese."

He added: "He's an artist, and film-making, whether for the large or the small screen, is the blood that runs through his veins."

See also:

22 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Altman film opens Sundance
24 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Robert Altman: Maverick film-maker
02 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Last of the 'Hollywood Ten' dies
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