Christopher Nolan, helmer of the upcoming Batman sequel The Dark Knight, is to be named director of the year at the ShoWest movie exhibition.

The 37-year-old Briton, who made his feature directing debut with Following in 1999, will receive the accolade at the closing night banquet of the ShoWest event in Las Vegas.

Having gained commercial and critical notoriety with his 2000 movie Memento, Nolan remade Norwegian thriller Insomnia before reviving the Caped Crusader for 2005's Batman Begins.

Starring Christian Bale as the conflicted Bruce Wayne, the film was credited with reviving the flagging franchise and both Bale and Nolan publicly committed to a follow-up, despite neither favouring sequels.

The Dark Knight is set to be released on July 18th this year and the anticipation surrounding its release has increased significantly since the tragic death of Heath Ledger, who stars as classic Batman villain The Joker.

Also starring in the sequel are Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes as love interest Rachel Dawes.

Confirming that Nolan was to be named director of the year, ShoWest co-managing director Mitch Neuhauser told the Hollywood Reporter Nolan is "one of the most talented directors working today whose films consistently achieve both critical acclaim and box office success".

He added: "His ability to grab hold of an audience from the opening frame and not let go until the very end of each film is a testament to his ability as a master storyteller."

The 34th annual ShoWest exhibition opens on March 13th at the Bally's and Paris hotels in Las Vegas.

28/02/2008 12:03:55