Clint Eastwood on Wednesday became only the second person to receive a lifetime achievement honor from the organizers of the Cannes Film Festival.
The actor/director received the honorary Palme d'Or during an intimate news conference and cocktail party at a restaurant.
"I'm very, very flattered that you've chosen me for this," Eastwood said. "French cineastes have always been very supportive of me along the way. When I directed my first movie, French cineastes and critics encouraged me, while in my own country, everyone was much more reticent. France is the first country to approach and appreciate cinema as an art form."
Cannes organizers have given only one other lifetime achievement Palme d'Or, to Ingmar Bergman, during the event's 50th edition in 1997.
Eastwood won't be able to attend the 2009 festival in May because he will be shooting in South Africa, so organizers took advantage of the director's Paris trip to promote "Gran Torino," which hit French theaters Wednesday.