12/14/2012 12:42 am ET Updated Feb 13, 2013

Live From the Dubai International Film Festival: Day 5

At 71, director Michael Apted feels he's far from finished working in film -- though it gets increasingly difficult to make the kind of movies he most wants to make.

Still, having received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dubai International Film Festival this week, Apted appreciates the fact that the festival sees his career as something to celebrate.

"It's very thrilling," Apted, 71, says, relaxing on a couch on an oceanview veranda at the Al Qasr hotel at Madinat Jumeirah. "It's nice to see people look at my films as a body of work, instead of having just gone from film to film. It's an acknowledgement that I've been doing this for some time -- and here they are.

"This business is so fast-moving that people forget what you did last year, let alone 40 years ago. But this means they're looking at the whole picture, that what you did 10 or 20 years ago still has value. It's a slightly bigger view of who I am."

The British-born Apted, who lives in California, started his career in Britsh television in the 1960s, first as a researcher, then as a director of shows such as Coronation Street, before moving into films with The Triple Echo in 1972. He went on to direct Coal Miner's Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist and Nell, among others -- all films whose female stars earned Oscar nominations (Sissy Spacek won her Oscar for Coal Miner).

"I've begun to see themes in the work more recently," Apted says. "There's a pattern -- most obviously my interest in women's issues. I don't say, 'I'm going to make a film about this subject.' But I'm instinctively drawn to the subject without seeing the bigger picture. And, actually, the biggest change in my lifetime has been the changing role of women in society.

This commentary continues on my website.