NEW YORK.- On January 26, Kareen Rispal, Cultural Counselor of the Embassy of France, will confer upon Bob Berney, Philip S. Birsh, Glen W. Bowersock, and Dominique Nabokov the insignia of chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. The ceremony will take place in New York at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.
Bob Berney has been a preeminent force in the international film world for more than two decades. Currently President of Picturehouse Entertainment, he has founded and run some of the main companies that have been dedicated to releasing independent productions, including Picturehouse, Newmarket Films and IFC Films. One of the most acclaimed films he has distributed recently is Olivier Dahan’s La Vie en Rose. Other films he has shepherded include Pan’s Labyrinth, Mongol, The Passion of the Christ, Monster, Whale Rider, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Memento.
The owner of Playbill, Philip S. Birsh is a true Francophile. His support, both as a patron and as a media sponsor, proved critical to the success of two major French Embassy initiatives: Act French in 2005, which presented new theater from France, and I Kiffe NY in 2008 (a French Urban Cultures Festival). A keen student of history, he is a great admirer of Lafayette and contributed to the restoration of one of his statues near Columbia University.
A Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Dr. Glen W. Bowersock is one of the world’s leading authorities on antiquity, in particular on Imperial Greek Literature, the early history of Christianity, and the relationship between the Roman Empire and the Middle East. He is a strong and active proponent of international cooperation in research, and works closely with several French institutions. Indeed, both francophone and Francophile, he is a doctor honoris causa of Strasbourg University and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes-Etudes, and an associate member of France’s Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
Dominique Nabokov is a sharp-eyed photographer who divides her time between the U.S. and France. After starting as an assistant photographer to Patrick Demarchelier in 1980, she branched out on her own and focused on portrait photography and photo-reportage. Her work has appeared in many leading publications, including The New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Le Monde, and Le Nouvel Observateur, and it is featured in the collections of the Musée Européen de la Photographie and the FNAC (Fonds National d’Art Contemporain).
The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of the Arts and Letters) was created in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as individuals who have contributed to the recognition of French culture in the world. The Order is given out twice annually to only a few hundred people worldwide. Several Americans have received the award, including Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman.