The Bridesmaids director will become the first male honoured by event bosses in recognition of his support of women in films like Spy, Heat and the upcoming all-female Ghostbusters reboot.

In a statement, Feig writes, "There is nothing more important to me than creating meaningful, diverse, and three-dimensional roles for women in front of the camera and doing whatever I can to help move the industry toward complete equality for their creative visions and voices behind the camera.

"So, to be named as Athena's first male honoree means more to me than I can ever express."

The Athena Film Festival was launched in 2011 as a celebration of women and leadership.

Festival co-founders Melissa Silverstein and Kathryn Kolbert add, "We feel it is crucial to recognize and honor not only the women who are breaking barriers, but also the men who support and advocate for them. Paul's body of work is a true testament to his commitment to talented women in the entertainment industry. We cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award."

The sixth annual Athena Film Festival will kick off on 18 February (16), and Feig will be feted during a ceremony on 20 February (16).