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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Tarantino takes French arts prize
Quentin Tarantino and Milos Forman
Tarantino and Forman are both at the Cannes Film Festival
Director Quentin Tarantino been handed a special new award by the French government at the Cannes Film Festival.

The director, who is heading the jury at the festival, was made an Officer of Arts and Letters by French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres.

"I'm actually for the first time speechless," Tarantino said afterwards.

Czech film-maker Milos Forman, who made One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, was given another new award, becoming a knight of the Legion of Honour.

Forman was described by the French government minister as "a master of world cinema".

"Your cinema crosses borders and is a model for generations of filmmakers," he said.


Tarantino told reporters he became familiar with France through watching film.

"That's how I became a Francophile, not by going here, I couldn't," he said.

"It was from watching French movies and learning about French culture through its cinema, through the eyes of its greatest directors and its stars."

He named French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville as his inspiration. "He gave the impression that if you love movies enough you can't help but make a good one."

As well as heading the jury at the festival, Tarantino's current film, Kill Bill Volume 2, is being shown.

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