by Hans ten Cate
Tuesday, 22 November 2005
updated Thursday, 1 December 2005

Terry Gilliam turns 65 today, and no one is letting Terry forget it. In a race perhaps to give Terry as much lifetime achievement recognition before this auspicious birthday came round, no fewer than three film festivals have honored Terry with career awards this year. And Prague has honored Terry's feet... but more on that later.

Terry Gilliam being interviewed by Orvar Säfström

Photo courtesy of: Terry Gilliam

Stockholm International Film Festival

“While Cleese is one-man-ing it in New Zealand,” Gilliam wrote to PythOnline on his birthday, “I have just returned from the Stockholm International Film Festival where, on November 19, they weighed me down with the heaviest award in the film business... a 7 1/2 kilo solid bronze horse.”

The award is the Stockholm Visionary Award, which was founded in 2004 to acknowledge the true visionaries in contemporary filmmaking, and is “apparently bestowed on people who don't need spectacles to create spectacles” Terry joked.

Terry received the Stockholm Visionary Award
Photo courtesy of: Terry Gilliam

The award was presented to Terry last Saturday during the Stockholm International Film Festival (17 through 27 November) which began in 1990 and is now the leading competitive film festival in Northern Europe. The 16th international film festival will present more than 160 films from close to 40 countries. For the occasion, Terry participated in a special open forum event called Face2Face, where Swedish journalist Orvar Säfström interviewed Terry Gilliam live in front of an audience.

Also, as part of the event, Terry Gilliam got to choose three films that have been his major sources of inspiration. The festival will screen Toto the Hero, One-Eyed Jacks and Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal – without which, according to Gilliam, “there would be no Holy Grail.


Terry in the crypt of the Lund Cathedral, with presenter Johanna Willstedt Buchholtz (left) and award artist Tamara Malmeström (right)

Photo Credit: Pepe Henriksson

Lund Fantastic Film Festival

Terry had already been to Sweden, two months ago in fact, to attend the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival (16 through 25 September) in the southern town of Lund, the second oldest township in Sweden.

At the festival Terry was presented with the new Finn the Giant Award "for widening the borders of imagination within filmmaking." The award, created by renowned local artist Tamara Malmeström, was given to Terry in a special ceremony on September 18 in the crypt of the Lund Cathedral.

Award painting by Tamara Malmeström

Photo Credit: Pepe Henriksson

“We had a great time,” said festival official and award presenter Johanna Willstedt Buchholtz, “and it was wonderful to see that Gilliam was pleasantly surprised by our modest Fantastic Film Festival, and so interested in the cathedral and it's history and interiors.”

Gilliam also opened a complete retrospective of his films screened in Lund in collaboration between the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival and the Lund University Film Society. The festival showed several of Terry's films, including Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, Brazil, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as well as The Brothers Grimm.

Terry visited Lund from September 17 and 19, with the 18th featuring the Swedish premiere of The Brothers Grimm, followed by a Q&A with Terry.


Lucarno Film Festival

On August 12, Terry Gilliam received the Leopard of Honor award at the 58th Annual Locarno Film Festival (3 through 13 August) in the Swiss lakeside town of Locarno.

The Leopard of Honor award is in recognition of Gilliam's career as a film director. The award evening took place in the town's open-air Piazza Grande and began with Gilliam being given the golden leopard statue. The evening also featured a screening of Gilliam's 1982 film Time Bandits.

Gilliam was the third of three directors to receive the award this year, alongside Wim Wenders from Germany and Abbas Kiarostami from Iran. All three directors received their awards on separate nights.

The announcement of Terry's award was made June 30 at a press conference and reception at the Swiss Embassy in London. Announcing the award, fest director Irene Bignardi praised Gilliam's visionary approach to cinema over the past 30 years.


Terry's International Sock Festival

Terry was there for the grand opening.
Photo credit: Terry Gilliam

But perhaps the more unusual recognition of Terry's legacy took place November 10. While in the Czech Republic for the premiere of The Brothers Grimm (which was filmed in Prague), Terry attended the opening of a shop named in his honor. “They have opened a shop just off Wenceslaus Square called Terry's Socks - named after my under foot wear.”

Terryho ponožky, which means 'Terry’s Socks' in Czech, is a new store at the art house Kino Svetozor cinema. The shop’s name refers to a now well-known photo of Gilliam, taking his shoes off onstage at Žižkov’s Kino Aero, to show off a pair of patterned socks.

Terry's sock, with signature, is proudly displayed on a plinth in front of the shop

“It is a kind of film haberdashery selling books, specialist DVDs, posters and other movie paraphernalia,” Terry said. “I was there for the grand opening and it now displays one of my bright yellow only-slightly-used socks (not for sale).” The store is open daily from 10am until 9:30pm.

Congratulations, Terry! It just goes to show that you don't need to have a mammal named after you to be immortalized. “P.S.” Terry nevertheless assured me, “I'm thinking of starting a range of socks made out of lemur skin.”