Sure, Francis Ford Coppola isn’t exactly Latin American, but just about any stateside Latino can connect with his sensitive portrayals of Italian-American life, in which family is everything, weddings are excuses for wild parties, and timeless old-world traditions clash with the materialistic vicissitudes of American culture. Then of course, there are his more universal meditations on perception versus reality, madness, and moral ambiguity laid out in masterpieces like The Godfather saga, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now. And while his career has had its ups and downs, it’s no accident that Coppola has come to be one of the most revered names in world cinema.
And now it seems the Spanish monarchy has decided to recognize his outstanding contribution to the cinematic arts by bestowing the 76-year-old New Yorker by way of Detroit with their prestigious Princess of Asturias arts prize. Named in honor of the 9-year-old Crown Princess Leonor (previously called the Prince of Asturias prize in honor of now-reigning King Felipe VI), the prize — awarded by a jury on behalf of the Princess of Asturias Foundation — recognizes achievements in the arts, social sciences, and scientific research, and comes with a bounty of 50,000 euro (about US$56,000.)
Okay, 50,000 euro is probably little more than a symbolic gesture for the six-time Oscar winner and cinematic entrepreneur, but getting any sort of recognition from a Crown Princess is pretty dope. In their official statement, the prize foundation cited Coppola’s storytelling abilities and the transcendence of his films, many of which have become “collective and universal icons of contemporary imagination and culture.” That’s a pretty nice thing to say, innit?
Now even if this award doesn’t qualify Coppola as an honorary Latino, our communities can still learn a lot from his loving representations of immigrant family life, that were never afraid to reach deeper into the realm of universal experience.