The 78-year old, known for films such as «Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid», «Out of Africa» and «All the President’s Men», began his career – which has included acting, directing and producing – in the early 1960s.
He founded the Sundance Institute to help emerging film makers 20 years later. The Utah-based Sundance Film Festival is now considered the top U.S. independent film festival.
«It’s a creative enterprise, just like art, just like painting, music. Creating something can be done in different categories,» Redford said on the gala’s red carpet on Monday night. «So to do it in film is just another expression, which is great.
Because it translates so well because so many people see the work, if you’re lucky.»
Redford has previously won accolades at the Oscars with an Honorary Award as well as the Golden Globes and Baftas.
He was joined for the New York gala by actress Jane Fonda and Broadway and recording star Barbra Streisand, who presented the award to him. «It was unexpected, which makes it even more special,» Redford said.
The Film Society first held the annual gala in 1972 to honor British-born Charlie Chaplin who had made his career in the United States but had been living in exile in Europe after falling foul of U.S. authorities – largely over his political views. It has since been renamed after the actor and awarded to major Hollywood names such as Sidney Poitier, Tom Hanks, Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood.