A Cinematography Preview of Cannes 2017

The 2017 Cannes International Film Festival has just begun. Although there are a lot of news stories about the films, directors and actors at Cannes, not enough is said about the cinematographers.

This post lists some of the films that will be screened in the next 11 days, and identifies some of cinematographers involved. There are, of course, many, many, many more…

1. Official Competition
2. Director/Cinematographer Partnerships
3. Chivo VR
4. Intriguing
5. ExcelLens Tribute to Christopher Doyle

1. Official Competition

The two “official” selections, the Competition and sidebar Un Certain Regard (aka UCR), are chosen by the genial festival director, Thierry Frémeaux, and his staff. The Official Competition is the main event: 19 films will compete this year for the Palme d’Or and other prizes awarded by a formidable jury headed by director Pedro Almodovar, which also includes two powerful visual stylists: directors Park Chan-wook and Paolo Sorrentino.

Cannes 2017 Official Competition - Click for PDF

Co-productions sometimes make it difficult to define a film’s nationality, so this list identifies the director’s nationality. By this directorial standard, competing for the Palme d’Or are: 5 French films, 4 from the US, 2 from South Korea, 1 each from Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Russia, the UK, and Ukraine. There are three women directors in this list — Sofia CoppolaNaomi Kawase and Lynn Ramsay — and two women DPs: Jeanne Lapoirie, AFC, and Irina Lubtchansky (Out of Competition).

The Official Competition includes two ASC members: Darius Khondji, who shot Okja by Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, and Ed Lachman, who shot Todd Haynes‘ Wondertruck. Darius shot Okja large format with an Alexa 65 and Primo 70 lenses. I look forward to seeing the latest work of these master cinematographers.

The AFC (French society of cinematographers) is well represented in this list and Christophe Beaucarne, AFC, BFC, has the rare privilege of having shot two films presented at Cannes: Jacques Doillon‘s Rodin in the Official Competition, and Matthieu Amalric‘s Barbara in the Official UCR sidebar.

It’s great to see that 7 of the 19 features were shot with Kodak film negative, a confirmation that negative is here to stay.

2. Director/Cinematographer Partnerships

I believe that directors and cinematographers who work together over many films are able to go deeper, than one-time partnerships. I noted the following partnerships in the Competition list:

— Guillaume Schiffman, AFC, has shot all six of director Michel Hazanavicius‘ features. Guillaume earned ASC and Oscar nominations for his beautiful homage to the silent era on The Artist.

— Mikhail Krichman, RGC, has shot all five of director Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s features. The poetic naturalism of Mikhail’s cinematography on their previous collaboration, Leviathan, earned him the Golden Frog at Camerimage.

Andrei Zvyagintsev and Mikhail Krichman Cannes 2014 – credit: Benjamin B -thefilmbook

— Edward Lachman has shot four features with director Todd Haynes, as well as the series Mildred Pierce. The stunning cinematography of Carol earned Ed ASC and Oscar nominations, and the Golden Frog award at Camerimage. Ed was also recently honored with the 2017 ASC Lifetime Achievement award.

— Christian Berger, AAC, & director Michael Haneke have worked on six films together, including this year’s Happy End. Haneke comes to the festival as a strong contender, with two Palme d’Ors, including one for The White Ribbon. Christian’s brilliant black and white cinematography on that film earned him an Oscar nomination and an ASC award.

Haneke’s other Palme d’Or film is the heart-wrenching masterpiece Amour, lit with great elegance and understatement by Darius Khondji. Note that if Happy End wins the Palme d’or this year, Haneke would become the only director with three Palmes. At the pre-festival press conference, Thierry Frémeaux, joked that Happy End does not live up to its title. Indeed Haneke’s oeuvre can be quite cruel to the viewer, but his filmmaking is brilliant.

3. Chivo VR

For the first time ever, the Cannes Official Selection includes a Virtual Reality piece: Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible) by Alejandro Iñarritu with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC — aka “Chivo”.

Carne y Arena seeks to reproduce the experience of migrants attempting to cross the Mexican border into the US. The large-scale piece will be shown to a select few out of competition in a hangar twenty minutes away from the festival. Chivo has already proved himself a pioneer of virtual cinematography on Gravity, which earned him one of his three consecutive Oscars. I look forward to seeing an piece that may mark an important moment in cinema history.

4. Intriguing

The Cannes festival is a feast for the eyes. There are dozens of films to see. Here are a few that caught my eye, with cinematographers and/or directors I know and respect, or others that intrigue me. I will add to this list during the week.

— Daughters of April by Michel Franco, with DP Yves Cape, AFC, SBC — UCR
— Wind River by Taylor Sheridan with DP Ben Richardson — UCR
— Beauty and the Dogs by Kaouther Ben Hania with DP Johan Holmquist — UCR
— Mobile Homes by Vladimir de Fontenay with DP Benoit Soler
— Un Beau Soleil Intérieur by Claire Denis with DP Agnès Godard, AFC, opens the Directors’ Fortnight.
— Bushwick by Cary Murnion, with DP Jonathan Milott. Director’s Fortnight
— The Florida Project by Sean Baker, with DP Alexis Zabe – a follow-up to Tangerine — Directors’ Fortnight
— Lover For A Day by Philippe Garrel with DP Renato Berta, AFC — Directors’ Fortnight
— A Prayer Before Dawn by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire with DP David Ungaro, AFC.
— Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc by Bruno Dumont with DP Guillaume Deffontaines, AFC. Directors’ Fortnight
— Patti Cake$ by Geremy Jasper with DP Fede Cesca
— Napalm by the venerable Claude Lanzmann shot by Caroline Champetier, AFC with a Sony A7S. Special Screening
— 12 Days by the amazing documentarian Raymond Depardon. Special Screening
— 24 Frames by Abbas Kiarostami (from his photographs). Special Screening
— Come Swim a short by actress Kristen Stewart, with DP John Guleserian. Special Screening

5. ExcelLens tribute to Christopher Doyle

Angenieux’ ExcelLens Award is a recent yearly award for leading cinematographers, past recipients are Philippe Rousselot, ASC, AFC, Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC, Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, and Peter Suchitzky, ASC. This year’s award will go to the legendary Christopher Doyle, HKSC.

Chris’ impressive body of work includes collaborations with Asian directors Zhang Yimou, Edward Yang, Stan Lai, Zhang Yuan. He has also shot films with Alejandro Jodorowsky, Gus Van Sant, Barry Levinson and Jim Jarmusch. I am particularly touched by Chris’ wonderful collaboration with Wong Kar-Wai.

Chris is sometimes called “the Keith Richards of cinematography” for his playful bad-boy attitude, which should bring some added fun to Cannes this year.

Christopher Doyle, HKSC – credit: Benjamin B thefilmbook


Festival de Cannes Official Selection Un Certain Regard (official sidebar) Official screening guide

Director’s Fortnight – La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs International Critics Week – La Semaine de la Critique ACID indie sidebar

AFC website with coverage of Cannes in French and English

indiewire.com: Chris O’Falt details the cameras used on 29 films

thefilmbook: Christopher Doyle Video Interview: The Artistic Process

Carne y Arena PART 1 - VR by Alejandro Iñarritu with Emmanuel Lubezki

Carne y Arena PART 2 - Notes on Design of VR Cinema



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