The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival tapped into the star power of “Star Wars” at its opening night by announcing Lawrence Kasdan as the first recipient of the Icon Award for Contributions to the Cinematic Arts.

Lawrence Kasdan

Lawrence Kasdan

The world’s largest Jewish film festival and its partner in the award, online publication ArtsATL, were keeping secret both the existence of the Icon Award and its winner until the 16th annual festival’s opening Tuesday night, Jan. 26, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The announcement was due after the AJT went to press.

The Icon Award will be presented each year to someone who has upheld the tradition of artistic excellence in film, informed directly or indirectly by a Jewish subject or sensibility, and who inspires pre-eminence in filmmaking worldwide. The award is one of the most dramatic moves the festival has made to expand its profile since becoming an independent nonprofit in August 2014.

Kasdan, 67, a screenwriter, director, producer and four-time Oscar nominee, will accept the award at a gala Sunday, May 22, at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Auditorium. The event will include a conversation between Kasdan and ArtsATL co-founder Catherine Fox.

“I’m very honored and flattered to be the first recipient,” Kasdan said.

Kasdan co-wrote last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and he and son Jon wrote the 2018 Han Solo spinoff film. His writing credits also include “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Body Heat,” “The Big Chill” and “The Accidental Tourist,” the last three of which he directed.

“Kasdan’s career continues to have a rich impact on the broad popular consciousness,” festival Executive Director Kenny Blank said. “The gifts of storytelling and craftsmanship, which Kasdan’s work reflects, are held in the highest regard by AJFF and our audience.”