Delbonnel to receive Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography

May 14, 2019
© Mitya Ganopolsky

Since 2013, as an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival, Angénieux has been paying a tribute to a prominent director of photography during the ‘Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography’ ceremony. This event turns the spotlight on worldwide masters of light, directors of photography, without whom cinema would not exist.

After Philippe Rousselot AFC ASC in 2013, Vilmos Zsigmond HSC ASC in 2014, Roger A. Deakins CBE BSC ASC in 2015, Peter Suschitzky ASC in 2016, Christopher Doyle HKSC in 2017 and Edward Lachman ASC, it is Bruno Delbonnel AFC ASC’s turn to be honoured in 2019, at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, during an exceptional evening opened by Thierry Frémaux, presented by French journalist Pierre Zéniand in presence of some of his closest collaborators.

Bruno Delbonnel is a world-renowned French director of photography. Born in Nancy in 1957, Bruno Delbonnel first studied philosophy,then graduated from ESEC in the camera and light section, before filming his first and only film at the age of 20: a short film, Rare Realities. On this film, Jean-Pierre Jeunet was his assistant and Henri Alekan, his DOP. Alongside the master of black and white photography, he discovered his passion for light was stronger than directing. He then began working as a camera assistant during fifteen years for commercials and some feature films, then as a DOP.

© Leah Gallo

His career took on an international dimension in 2001, thanks to his collaboration with Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Thanks to his work on Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, he won the European Cinema Prize for the best director of photography and was nominated at the same time for the César, the BAFTA and the Oscar for best picture. Particularly noticed for his avant-garde work, he has a different approach to light and makes production designers his best allies on filming, so that sets are designed to be filmed at short focal length, shots framed at 27mm, his preferred focal length.

Now Bruno Delbonnel continues his visual research at the service of the movies he enlightens and finds inspiration in music, architecture or abstract painting –challenging himself such as “trying to create a light between Mark Rothko and Shostakovich”– and developed collaborations with some of the greatest directors: Tim Burton (Dark Shadows, Big Eyes, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), the Coen brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Alexandre Sokourov (Faust, Francofonia), Joe Wright (Darkest Hour) or David Yates (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and of course his old mate, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Un Long dimanche de fiançailles).

© Alison Cohen Rosa

His collaborations earned him five Oscar nominations for Best Picture (for Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain in 2002, Un long dimanche de fiançailles in 2005, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in 2010, Inside Llewyn Davis in 2014 and Darkest Hour in 2018).

Click to read more about Delbonnel’s work on Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Dark Shadows and Darkest Hour in our interview archive.

In parallel to the tribute paid to the already established career of a director of photography, Angénieux also wants to highlight the promising work of a young film professional. This is how, during this exceptional evening, the director of photography Modhura Palit based in Calcutta, India,will be given a special encouragement, offering her the opportunity to use the best of the Angénieux technology for the images of her next project.

Modhura Palit studied cinema at the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, one of India’s leading film schools. Member of the Indian Women Cinematographers Collective (IWCC) as well as of the Eastern India Cinematographers Association (EICA), she is part of the Busan Asian Film Academy (AFA), and she took part in the Looking China Youth Film Project in 2015. Thanks to this project, she travelled across China and directed, lit, edited and produced the short documentary The Girl Across The Stream in 18 days. This film won the 2nd Runner Up Prize. Since then, she has been working on short-films, video clips, corporate films and three feature films. She follows after Cecile Zhang, the young Chinese director of photography who graduated from the famous Beijing Film Academy,the first cinematographer who received the Angénieux Special Encouragement in Cannes in 2018 and was supported by Angénieux throughout the year.

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