The AFI Life Achievement Award
When AFI was founded in 1967, one of its purposes was to ensure that "great accomplishments of the past are recognized to the end that the masters of film may take their deserved place in history beside leaders in other arts."
This objective was clearly achieved through the AFI Life Achievement Award — the highest honor for a career in film — which was established by the AFI Board of Trustees on February 23, 1973. The AFI Life Achievement Award honors an individual whose career in motion pictures or television has greatly contributed to the enrichment of American culture.
The selection criteria states that "the recipient should be one whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art; whose accomplishment has been acknowledged by scholars, critics, professional peers and the general public; and whose work has stood the test of time." In 1993, the AFI Board of Trustees extended the criteria to encompass individuals with active careers and work of significance yet to be accomplished.