PARIS (AFP) - Film director and producer Luc Besson has been honoured with a top award in his native France for a prolific career that produced The Fifth Element, among other blockbusters.
The organisers of the Cesars, France's equivalent to the Oscars, said Besson had been awarded a Gold Medal at a small ceremony Monday evening for his "exceptional artistic and entrepreneurial contribution over the past three decades".
The prize - which is being awarded this year for the first time, a month ahead of the Cesars ceremony - "symbolises the gratitude of French cinema towards the man who has upheld French excellence", the French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques said.
Besson, 55, is best known for big budget action films such as La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional and the sci-fi thriller The Fifth Element.
In France, his films are often described as "very Hollywood".
In 2012, he opened a studio complex in the gritty Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis.
Several films have already been made at Besson's 'Cinema City', including his futuristic hit Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson.
The Cesars academy praised the venue for rivalling "the most mythical studios" and for employing mostly French staff.
The Cesars award ceremony takes place on Feb 20 in Paris.