Cinematography Preview of Cannes 2018

The 2018 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. Women Filmmakers
3. Director/Cinematographer Partnerships
4. Intriguing
5. ExcelLens Tribute to Ed Lachman


Jury members Kristen Stewart, Ava DuVernay, Cate Blanchett, Léa Seydoux, Khadja Nin (credit Mathilde Petit FDC)


1. 21 Films in Official Competition

The two main selections, the Official 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: this year 21 films will compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or, and other prizes awarded by a formidable jury headed by actor Cate Blanchett, that includes directors Ava DuVernay, Robert Guédiguian, Denis Villeneuve and Andrey Zvyagintsev; and actors Chang Chen, Khadja Nin, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart.

The 21 films in the Official Competition

Co-productions can make it difficult to define a film’s nationality, so my list identifies the director’s nationality. By this directorial standard, competing for the Palme d’Or are: 5 French films, 2 each from Iran, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US, and 1 each from China, Egypt, Korea, Lebanon, Poland and Turkey. 

Cold War by Pawel Pawlikowski, with cinematography by Lukasz Zal
Sorry Angel

For the first time in many years, there are no ASC members in the Official Competition. However, among the films screened out of competition, Solo- A Star Wars Story by Ron Howard was shot by Bradford Young, ASC, and the HBO remake of Farhenheit 451 by Ramin Bahrani by Kramer Morgenthau, ASC. There will also be a market screening of A Rose in Winter by Joshua Sinclair lit by the great Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC. As elaborated below, Ed Lachman, ASC, is being honored with the Angénieux ExcelLens award. 


I am heartened to see a new generation of directors and cinematographers in this year's selection, which includes one debut feature, Yomeddine -- an Egyptian road movie with a boy and a leper --  by AB Shawsky, with cinematographer Federico Cesca. I am also looking forward to seeing the latest work of young cinematographers like Christopher Aoun, Simon Beaufils, Mike Gioulakis and Chayse Irvin, and others I do not yet know...

Yomeddine by AB Shawsky, with cinematographer Federico Cesca

It's wonderful to see 87-year old Jean-Luc Godard return to the Official Competition with Image Book, with cinematography by Fabrice Aragno. In 2014, Godard shared the Cannes Grand Prix with Xavier Dolan, for his 3D film, Goodbye to Language


2. Women Filmmakers

There are 5 women filmmakers in the list above of the Official Competition:
-- 3 directors: Eva Husson, Nadine Labaki and Alice Rohrwacher
-- 2 cinematographers: Jolanta Dylewska, PSC, and Hélène Louvart, AFC (who also shot Petra in the Director's Fortnight). 
-- There were the same number of cinematographers and woman directors (including 1 out of competition) last year. 

The Girls of the Sun by Eva Husson -DP Mattias Troelstrup (credit: Khatia (Juda) Psuturi / Maneki Films)

Cannes Director Thierry Frémeaux has responded to criticism of the lack of women filmmakers by saying that the festival rejects the idea of a quota system, and that the selection of films is only based on quality. Nevertheless, I believe that the growing proportion of women and first-time directors in the official Un Certain Regard sidebar reflects the festival's determination to foster and encourage diversity in future editions of the Official Competition.

This year's line-up in Un Certain Regard (UCR for short) promises to reveal new cinematic voices:
-- 6 of the 18 films are debut features
-- there are 6 women directors, hailing from France, Italy, India, Kenya, Morrocco and Syria
-- there is also 1 Brazilian director/cinematographer, Renée Nader Messora, who shot and co-directed The Dead and the Others, partly set in the Amazon.


The themes of this year's UCR also address diversity:
-- Girl by Lukas Dhont with cinematographer Frank van den Eeden, NSC, is the story of a Belgian transgender teenager, struggling to become a ballerina.
-- The Kenyan film Rafiki by Wanuri Kahiu, with cinematography by Christopher Wessels, has reportedly been banned in its home country for its lesbian love story.

Rafiki by Wanuri Kahiu, with cinematography by Christopher Wessels

There is also a political bent to this year's offerings. It appears that two of the directors in the Official Selection, the Iranian Jafar Panahi and the Russian Kirill Serebrennikov, will be prevented from attending the festival by their respective governments, despite French diplomatic efforts. 


3. 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:

— Sorry Angel marks the fourth feature collaboration between Rémy Chevrin, AFC, and director Christophe Honoré, including the touching Love Songs in 2007. The two filmmakers have also shot 2 TV movies together.

In the center: Louvart and Rohrwacher shooting The Wonders

— Hélène Louvart, AFC, shot Alice Rohrwacher's The Wonders, which won the Cannes Grand Prix in 2014. This year the two women filmmakers present Happy as Lazzaro.

Pawlowski and Zal on the set of Ida

— Lukasz Zal, PSC, and director Pawel Pawlikowski are presenting their second collaboration -- the love triangle story Cold War -- after the brilliant Ida, which won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Lukasz and fellow DP Ryszard Lenczewski, PSC, won the Camerimage Golden Frog and the ASC Spotlight Award for Ida.

Ceylan and Tiryaki on Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (

Gokhan Tiryaki, CAT, has shot Nuri Bilge Ceylan's past 5 features, including the stunning Once Upon a Time in Anatolia in 2011, and the 2014 Palme d'Or winner Winter Sleep. This year they are presenting The Wild Pear Tree.

Gautier and Jia on set

I am also looking forward to seeing some first-time cross-cultural collaborations, notably the talented Eric Gautier working with Chinese director Zhang-Ke Jia on Ash Is Purest White, and the great José Luis Alcaine with Iranian director Asghar Farhadi for the Spanish-language psychological thriller Everybody Knows.

Asghar Farhadi, Penelope Cruz and Jose Luis Alcaine on set of Everybody Knows (credit Teresa Isasi)


4. Intriguing

The Cannes festival is a cinematic cornucopia, with dozens of films and events. In addition to the "Official" competitions there are many offerings in 3 alternate selections:

-- Director's Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary
-- International Critics Week

Here are some films and events that caught my eye:

— The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, by Terry Gilliam, with cinematography by Nicola Pecorini (Special Screening). Twenty years in the making, this "cursed" film whose projection was almost cancelled by judicial disputes with its producer.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

— Arctic, by Joe Penna, with cinematography by Tomas Orn Tomasson (Special Screening)

— The State against Nelson Mandela and the others, a documentary by Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte, AFC, who also shot it. (Special Screening)

— Pope Francis - A Man of his Word, a documentary by Wim Wenders with cinematography by Lisa Rinzler. (Special Screening)

— Climax, by provocative director Gaspar Noé, with cinematography by the inventive Benoît Debie, SBC (Director's Fortnight)

— Leave No Trace by Debra Granik (director of Winter's Bone), with cinematography by Michael McDonough (Director's Fortnight)

— Treat Me Like Fire by Marie Monge, with cinematography by Paul Guilhaume (Director's Fortnight)

— 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Stanley Kubrik, with cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth, BSC
Fifty years after its release, a new 70mm film print will be introduced by Christopher Nolan in the presence of Kubrick's widow and daughter.

— Christopher Nolan Master Class on May 13


5. ExcelLens tribute to Ed Lachman

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, Peter Suchitzky, ASC, and Christopher Doyle, HKSC. This year’s award will go to the Ed Lachman, ASC.

Ed’s impressive body of work includes collaborations with leading independent auteurs like Robert Altman, Larry Clark, Sofia Coppola, Ulrich Seidl, Paul Schrader, Susan Seidelman, Steven Soderbergh, Todd Solondz and Wim Wenders. I am particularly touched by Ed's wonderful, lengthy collaboration with Todd Haynes, notably on Carol. 

Congratulations to Ed for this well-deserved Cannes honor !


LINKS The Cameras Used to Shoot 32 of This Year's Films Cannes International Film Festival  (English version)

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

thefilmbook: Cinematography Preview of Cannes 2017

thefilmbook: Cannes 2015: Women Warriors and Sexual Emancipators


Cannes 2018 jury members Robert Guédiguian, Denis Villeneuve, Cate Blanchett, Chang Chen and Andrey Zvyagintsev (credit Dominique Charriau)



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