Director and screenwriter Scott Hicks is being presented with the Don Dunstan Award for his contribution to cinema.

The presentation is being made to coincide with the opening of the Adelaide Film Festival.

Hicks says is touched by the recognition.

"It was quite an emotional thing actually because Don Dunstan is one of the main reasons why I became a filmmaker," he said.

"If he had not had the vision for a film industry in the state, it's highly unlikely I would have become a filmmaker."

Almost 150 Australian and international films will screen over the next 11 days of the film festival.