Mel Gibson took the plaudits at the 49th Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic.
The American-born actor received a Crystal Globe for his outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema.
Jewish groups in the Czech Republic criticised the decision to honour the controversial actor/director.
As he approached the microphone everybody waited with baited breath, but Gibson focused on his prize: “It’s just the kind of thing I want, the kind of fantasy I’ve always had, a naked woman holding a ball, It’s great.”
The Gibson got serious: “Telling stories is the real gratification. When you see a child’s eyes light up, or when you see an audience respond. I saw the general public out here tonight and they were moved, at some point, by something I did. This is gratifying and it humbles me to think what I have to offer, the meager things, full of an actor’s insecurity, all the artistic insecurity.”
Karlovy Vary is traditionally seen as an event where East meets West.
Among thos being shown this year is ‘Bota’ an Albanian film set in a desolate village during communist times where families were consigned to internal exile.
Iris Elezi directed the film: “There is some kind of amnesia, selective amnesia, in our culture and I think we do it because it’s too painful to look at what we just did, or to understand that, even naively or innocently we were still part of something bad and big.”
‘Afterlife’ is a Hungarian offering, which explores how one comes to terms with the loss of someone close.
Virag Zomboracz directed the movie and spoke of its surreal origin: “This whole thing started with a dream. I had several dreams about my father as a ghost and in my dream he does not know who he is or that he died and he did not recognise the family. So this is the main idea of the film.”
‘Afterlife’ is one of 12 pictures competing for the 2014 East of the West prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, which runs until July 12.