George Lucas honored at San Francisco Film Festival

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The San Francisco Film Society honored George Lucas, creator of the “Star Wars” films, with an award on Thursday to mark the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco International Film Festival.

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Lucas ushered in a new era of special-effects and visual wizardry with his “Star Wars” films and launched the Indiana Jones film franchise with director Steven Spielberg.

At a black-tie dinner in San Francisco, Lucas received the Irving “Bud” Levin Award, named after the founder of the film festival who 50 years ago sought to create an event to compete with the European festivals in Venice, Cannes, and Berlin.

Those festivals still overshadow the San Francisco festival, but the San Francisco Bay area has long been home to some film’s top names. Lucas lives in Marin County, north of San Francisco, and has his production facilities Industrial Light and Magic and Lucasfilm in San Francisco.

“I’m out of the mainstream,” Lucas said as he received the award. “I can do things that are not considered to be too logical or too smart. But those are the things that pay off.”

When he arrived at the event he praised the San Francisco area as a good base for his filmmaking outside of Hollywood.

“We make films outside the normal corporate influence,” he said. “But it’s a little bit harder up here than it is there,” he said.

Lucas said he is ready to begin work as a producer next month on the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones film franchise.

In a brief interview, he said veteran actor Sean Connery had yet to agree to reprise his role as Indiana Jones’ father.

“We have a script with him in it,” he said. “If he doesn’t do it, we’ll do a quick rewrite.”

Actor-comedian Robin Williams, another local resident, was presented the Peter Owens award for “brilliance, independence and integrity.” Since becoming a television star in the 1970s, he has appeared in films including “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” He won an Oscar for his performance in “Good Will Hunting.”

Spike Lee, best known for his exploration of the black experience and U.S. race relations in films such as “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X,” won the Film Society Directing Award.