Academy honours Angelina Jolie for work with refugees

The Hollywood film industry recognised Angelina Jolie on Saturday with a humanitarian award for her work with refugees and advocating for human rights through her film career.

Actors Angela Lansbury and Steve Martin and costume designer Piero Tosi also received what are called "honorary Oscars" for their contributions to film at the annual Governors Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In a celebrity-packed room, with partner Brad Pitt and Cambodia-born son Maddox by her side, Jolie was introduced by Bosnian and Serbian cast members from her directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey. They thanked her for giving those who lived the Balkan war a chance to express themselves.

The 38-year-old Oscar winner is a special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and has made more than 40 field missions, including recently to help refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

Upon receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from director George Lucas, Jolie remembered her late mother who encouraged her to live a life of use to others, although the actress said it took time for her to realise what that meant.

"When I met survivors of war and famine and rape, I learned what life is like for most people in this world," Jolie said.

"I realised how sheltered I had been," she added, "and I was determined to never be that way again."

Funny notes
Past winners of the humanitarian award include Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.

British-American actress Lansbury, whose career has spanned seven decades, was feted for memorable roles in films like her cockney maid in Gaslight in 1944, directed by George Cukor.

While nominated three times for supporting actress Oscars, including for Gaslight, she has never won.

"Ms. Lansbury, here is your Academy Award at last," said film historian Robert Osborne as he presented her with the golden Oscar statuette.

Lansbury, 88, noted that although she had worked with some of the best actors and directors, the world knew her more for her TV series Murder She Wrote than for her film career.

The funniest notes of the night came with the award for Martin, who was the recipient of jabs from fellow actors Tom Hanks and Martin Short. Short called the Governors Awards "the highest honour an actor can receive in mid-November."

"I can't possibly express how excited I am tonight because the Botox is fresh," joked Martin, 68, best known for his offbeat comedy, banjo playing and films like The Jerk. He has never won an Oscar.

Tosi, the prolific Italian costume designer who worked with the director Luchino Visconti in films like The Leopard, was not able to travel from his home in Italy. Actress Claudia Cardinale, who wore Tosi's dresses in several roles, accepted the award for the 86-year-old.

"Piero asked me, an actress, to collect this prize because he believes the work of a costume designer is mainly dedicated to us, the actors," said Cardinale.

"I suspect he chose me because he made me suffer a lot in the 10 films we did together." –  Reuters

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