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Milos Forman to Receive Directors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award, 'One of the Greatest Filmmakers of Our Time'

by Sophia Savage
November 28, 2012 4:29 PM
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'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'

Milos Forman will receive the Directors Guild of America's Lifetime Achievement Award at the 65th annual DGA Awards on February 2. DGA president Taylor Hackford calls Forman "one of the greatest filmmakers of our time," and says “No matter what subject or genre he tackles, Milos finds the universality of the human experience in every story, allowing us – his rapt audience – to recognize ourselves within the struggle for free expression and self-determination that Milos so aptly portrays on the silver screen.”

The recipient of this award is chosen by past and present presidents of the DGA. In the guild's 76 years, 33 other directors have been given the honor. The list of recipients is below.

Forman's work includes "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," "Amadeus," "The People vs. Larry Flint," "Man in the Moon" and "Goya's Ghost." His films have earned 33 Oscar nominations and 13 wins, among them Best Director wins for both "Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus."

More details on Forman's career below:

After graduating from the University of Prague’s Film Institute, Forman began writing screenplays and making short semi-documentaries.  He directed his first feature, Black Peter, in 1963, which garnered success at film festivals at Cannes, Montreal and New York, and brought him to the United States for the first time.  His next two films, Loves of a Blonde and Fireman’s Ball, were nominated for Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, after which Forman moved to New York to make his first American feature, Taking Off.
In 1973, producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz contacted Forman about directing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which garnered Forman his first DGA Award, five Academy Awards including Best Director, and four additional nominations.  Forman next turned long-running musical Hair into a feature film and followed that with Ragtime, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards.  1984’s Amadeus brought more critical acclaim, a second DGA Award, and eight Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Picture.  Forman’s most recent films include Valmont; The People vs. Larry Flynt, for which Forman received his third Academy Award nomination for Best Director; Man in the Moon and Goya’s Ghosts.  He also spent many years teaching and running the film studies program at Columbia University.
Forman joined the DGA in 1970 and served two terms on the National Board.  A longtime champion of artist’s rights, Forman became personally involved with the issue of unauthorized film alteration after his film version of Hair was broadcast with half of its musical scenes removed without his authorization.  He was a Charter Benefactor of the Artists Rights Foundation, a Governor of the Artists Rights Education and Legal Defense Fund Council at The Film Foundation, and a member of the DGA President’s Committee on Film Preservation.  In 2009, Forman gave the keynote address at the CISAC World Copyright Summit in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the DGA expressing concern about how rampant digital theft would impact the ability of artists to be compensated for their work.  Forman was awarded the John Huston Award for Artists Rights in 1997 and the DGA Honor in 2008.

Past recipients of the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award:

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More: Directors, Awards, Awards, Classics


  • Bruce Baert | November 29, 2012 9:55 AMReply

    First off, great, interesting and informative article. Second, 'Cuckoo's Nest' was a special film that needed special directing, and it got it in Forman. The complete winning package it was: Screenplay, casting, acting, editing, and even produding (one of two producers was Michael Douglas), it had it all...For only $4.4 million. Great film and a great director. It's about time.

  • Ted | November 28, 2012 7:52 PMReply

    I've always preferred his Czech films (especially Loves of a Blonde) to his American stuff. I always thought his Americans films were unimpressive, at least relative to Loves of a Blonde and Fireman's Ball.

  • Bruce Baert | November 29, 2012 11:03 AM

    How truly high and mighty of you, not to mention haughty taught and elitist.

  • Bruce Baert | November 29, 2012 10:10 AM

    Gimme a break "Ted!" When people don't know about film, they say something ignorant like that, thinking one's' earlier, foreign or home country, and smaller indie films are the only ones to admire. With monumental films like 'Cuckoo's Nest' and "Amadeus," to say Milos Forman's American Films were unimpressive is like a Czech saying Steven Spielberg's American films are unimpressive. Besides, like Roman Polanski, Forman is "truly an international filmmaker."

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