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Award-Winning Author & Translator Lydia Davis and Internationally Recognized Writer & Filmmaker Kent Jones to Receive French Arts and Letters Insignia
New York, January 12, 2015— Lydia Davis, acclaimed author, and translator of over 30 books from French to English including Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and Kent Jones, Director of the New York Film Festival and past Artistic Director of The World Cinema Foundation, will be respectively awarded Officier and Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters by Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy Antonin Baudry on January 15, 2015. The double decoration ceremony will be held at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York.
First named Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters in 1999 for her award-winning translations of the work of French authors and philosophers including Michel Leiris, Emmanuel Hocquard, Jean-Pierre Jouve, Maurice Blanchot, and Françoise Giroud, Lydia Davis has continued to write extraordinary translations of Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Michel Leiris's Rules of the Game, Volume I, which were each awarded the French-American Foundation’s Annual Translation Prize. Davis remains intensely involved in the promotion of French literature in the United States by collaborating with French authors on many literary events in New York.
As the Associate Director of Programming of the Film Society of Lincoln Center from 1998 until 2009 and Director of the New York Film Festival since 2012, Kent Jones has organized retrospectives of French filmmakers including Alain Resnais, Benoît Jacquot, Jean Eustache, and Jean-Luc Godard. Starting in the late 1990s, Jones was the New York correspondent for the French cinema magazine Cahiers du Cinema and he is a contributor to Film Comment, The Village Voice, and The New York Times where he writes on French filmmakers including Olivier Assayas, André Téchiné, Benoît Jacquot, Philippe Garrel, and Claude Lanzmann. Jones sat on the Jury of the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 and has authored books on French screenwriter and film directors André Téchiné, Olivier Assayas and on Robert Bresson’s L’Argent. He is also responsible for many DVD commentaries and visual essays on French cinema.
Said Cultural Counselor Antonin Baudry, “Because of the piercing eye, intense curiosity, and undeniable talent of both Kent Jones and Lydia Davis, the two most important artistic media of French culture are represented in New York with great intelligence and style.”
Lydia Davis is a writer and translator credited with strengthening the image of the translator in the literary world and provoking a renaissance for the short story genre. She is currently working on a collection of essays, many of them concerning translation from French and other languages and is the author, most recently, of the story collection Can't and Won't (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014). She has received much acclaim for her original prose and readable, elegant translations. Among her many honors, she was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2003, and in 2013 received both the Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for her stories and the Man Booker International Prize for her writing.
Kent Jones has been the Director the New York Film Festival since November 2012. He served as Artistic Director of The World Cinema Foundation from 2009 to 2013. He is the author of several books of criticism and was selected in 2012 as a Guggenheim Fellow. He has worked with Martin Scorsese as a writer and director on numerous documentaries including My Voyage to Italy, Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, and the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning A Letter to Elia. Jones also co-wrote Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P., starring Benicio del Toro and Mathieu Amalric, which screened in competition at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival.
The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) was established in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. The Order of Arts and Letters is given out under the jurisdiction of the French Minister of Culture and Communication. American recipients of the award include Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Uma Thurman.
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy provides a platform for exchange and innovation between French and American artists, intellectuals, educators, students, the tech community, and the general public. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the US, the Cultural Services develops the cultural economy by focusing on six principal fields of action: the arts, literature, cinema, the digital sphere, French language and higher education. www.frenchculture.org
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