Coen brothers to get top French cultural award

American film-making brothers Joel and Ethan Coen will receive France's highest cultural honour at a ceremony in Paris on Wednesday. The Oscar-winning directors will join the likes of Bono and Bob Dylan when they're inducted into the Order of Arts and Letters.

Coen brothers to get top French cultural award
The Coen Brothers Ethan (L) and Joel (R) with their 2008 Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars for "No Country For Old Men." Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP

US filmmakers Joel and Ethan Cohen will on Wednesday be presented with France's highest cultural honour at a ceremony in Paris.

The brothers, much garlanded for their large body of work including the Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men" and "Barton Fink" which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, will each be made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.

The brothers – Joel, 58, and Ethan 56 – are regarded as two of the most the most innovative directors in the world.

Since exploding onto the scene in 1984 with their noir thriller "Blood Simple," they have reeled off a dozen films each notable for their distinctive quirky humour or macabre themes.

The Coens' most recent film "Inside Llewyn Davis" took the Grand Prix (runner-up prize) at this year's Cannes film festival.

Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, the film tells the story of a struggling singer-songwriter against the backdrop of the 1960s New York folk scene.

The Cinémathèque Française in Paris is hosting a retrospective of the Coen brothers' movies until October 27th. 

SEE ALSO: 10 Must-see French movies of the Millenium

Other recent recipients from the world of film and music include movie star Bruce Willis and U2 frontman Bono, who got the honour in July.

For his part, Beatles legend Ringo Starr was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters at a ceremony in Monaco last month. 

US folk music icon Bob Dylan – a Commander since 1990 – was at the centre of a recent controversy in France, when his nomination for the country's highest civilian award, the Legion of Honour, was held up by a French general who said his pot-smoking, anti-war past made him "unworthy" of the honour.

In the end, however, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, head of the panel which chooses recipients every year, green-lighted Dylan's induction, calling him a "a great poet."

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US warns against travel to France due to ‘very high’ Covid numbers

The United States on Wednesday increased its travel warning to its peak level for France due to its ‘very high’ Covid figures.

US warns against travel to France due to 'very high' Covid numbers
Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

“Do not travel to France due to Covid-19,” wrote the US Department of State on its website.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for France due to Covid-19, indicating a very high level of Covid-19 in the country.”

In practice this will not have a big effect at present, since France allows only essential travel from the USA and arrival numbers are very low.

However French president Emmanuel Macron has said that he hopes to open up travel to vaccinated Americans by the summer.

The State Department’s travel warning is advisory, but travel to a Level 4 destination can invalidate travel insurance. 

Previously, the State Department listed 34 of about 200 countries worldwide with the “Do Not Travel” warning, and has since increased the number to 150 countries based on the recommendations of the CDC.

Other European countries placed on the Level 4 list include Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

The US on Tuesday also extended its travel ban on non-US citizens by 30 days. The restrictions have already been in place for 13 months.

For full details on the rules on travel between France and the USA, click HERE.

READ ALSO When will Americans be able to travel to France again?