AFC’s Conversations

Renato Berta, AFC, hails the legacy of Jean-Marie Straub

The cinema of Jean-Marie Straub and his companion Danièle Huillet was a radical and demanding body of work. Since their Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1967), which was a rigorous portrait of the Leipzig cantor’s wife, the filmmaking couple never stopped exploring literature, theater, music and poetry. Renato Berta, AFC, was one of their longest-standing collaborators, and he filmed over a dozen of their movies. He reflects with us upon this unique cinema experience. (FR)

Cinematographer Mandy Walker, ACS, ASC, discusses her work on "Elvis", by Baz Luhrmann

Nominated for the Golden Frog award in the main competition, Elvis is also the opportunity for Camerimage to present the film’s director Baz Luhrmann with the “Special Award for Outstanding Director”. For his second cooperation with cinematographer Mandy Walker, ACS, ASC, (his fourth if one includes two commercials made for Chanel), the director returns to the musical genre, which had punctuated the start of his career. Whether he’s adapting a novel (The Great Gatsby), a play (Romeo + Juliet) or relying on historical events (Australia), Baz Luhrmann has always known how to tell stories within his unique, caressing and sensitive universe. Elvis is no exception to the rule: much more than a simple biopic, the film is a true exploration of mid-20th-century America in constant tension “between the show and the biz”, according to the words of Baz Luhrmann, through a character whom the director tries to strip of his iconic status, in order to render to him his humanity and his sensitivity. (MC)

Cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, DFF, talks about his work on Gunnar Vikene’s "War Sailor"
"Journey to the End of Hell" by François Reumont

War films without soldiers are few and far between. Yet, this is what Norwegian Gunnar Vikene opted to do on his impressive film Kriegsseileren, which was screened in official competition for the Golden Frog for Best Cinematography 2022. Its narrative arc is evocative of Michael Cimino’s Deer Hunter (although it would have been entirely fitting for it to have adopted Cimino’s film’s French title: Journey to the End of Hell), this film whose title means “war sailor” is a film full of nuances in which destiny, friendship and survival combine to provide powerful dramatic fuel. Danish cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, (Rams, 2015, winner of the Silver Frog) shot this epic yet very intimate story... (FR)

Edu Grau, ASC, AEC, and Shane Ainsworth talk about the technical challenge of shooting Lykke Li music video "5D", by Theo Lindquist
"I Follow You", by François Reumont

Every year, the Camerimage festival honors music video cinematography during its big gala screening on Wednesday afternoon. This is the flagship event of our annual gathering, bringing together all the festival-goers and offering a unique window on the past year’s most innovative films. Amongst the contenders for the 2022 Golden Frog award for Best music video are director Theo Lindquist and cinematographer Edu Grau, who brought to life singer Lykke Li’s song “5D”. This astonishing cyclical ballet is well-attuned to the song’s melancholy mood. (FR)

Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC, speaks about his cinematography on series "The Man Who Fell To Earth", by Alex Kurtzman
"The interstellar migrant", by François Reumont

Extending rather than recreating the cult film by Nicholas Roeg, The Man who Fell to Earth – in which David Bowie plays an alien on Earth looking for a way to save his own planet – the eponymous TV series is a readaptation of the original novel that introduces a good dose of modernity. The impeccable British actor of Nigerian origin Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things, 12 Years a Slave...) lends his features to the visitor from another galaxy, while Noémie Harris (the mother in the film Moonlight) plays the Earthling who will be forced to accompany him on his mission. The screenplay by Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet of course seizes the opportunity to show the social reality of present-day America, like an echo of the science-fiction short story that centers the theme of the foreigner.
Tommy Maddox-Upshaw ASC is the mind behind the images. He discusses with us the challenges involved in filming this series, a Spanish-British coproduction, which has been broadcast since April 2022 on Showtime. (FR)

John Christian Rosenlund, FNF, speaks about the challenges of shooting "The Emigrants", by Erik Poppe
A historical saga in natural light

In making the decision to produce a new adaptation of the greatest classic of Swedish literature, Norwegian filmmaker Erik Poppe (Utoya: July 22) had his work cut out for him. Because Jan Troell already made a screen adaptation in 1971 starring Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullman, then the two most famous Swedish and international film stars, it’s not an easy thing to make a contemporary remake… However, when you watch the film, you have to admit they’ve done a pretty good job in proposing a modern version of a classic tale in which the currently relevant themes of migration, women’s rights, and religion infuse each scene. John Christian Rosenlund, FNF, was in charge of the lighting on this saga, with an often-minimalistic staging.

Kate McCullough, ISC, explains her choices for the photography of Colm Bairéad’s "The Quiet Girl"
As good as gold

Selected in the “Director’s debut” competition, The Quiet Girl, by Colm Bairéad, is a drama set in rural Ireland in the 1980s, which depicts the life of a young girl whose troubled parents send her to spend the summer with a couple of cousins. This film plays a lot on the unspoken and on a false appearance of distance to better reveal the many secrets at the heart of the story. This very touching portrait of early adolescence is played by the young Catherine Clinch, who radiates talent on screen. It is also the second Gaelic-language film for the Irish director of photography Kate McCullough; the first was the very beautiful Arracht, by Tom Sullivan (at Camerimage in 2020). Note that Kate also has a special link with Poland, since she attended the Łódź film school... (FR)

Director of photography Matthias Helldoppler speaks about the shooting of music video "Other Side”, by Rupert Höller
The Kinetics of Tree Trunks

A good music video is often based on a director’s idea. For “Other Side”, the title of the Austrian electronic music duo Camo & Crooked, director Rupert Höller decided to portray the strange adventure of a young woman aboard her motorhome, which she has parked at the edge of the forest.
In this music video, the lighting plays the same role as an actor in the scenography, offering some quiet fantastic nocturnal atmospheres. Austrian cinematographer Matthias Helldoppler tells us about his method for creating these plays of light... (FR)

Peter Zeitlinger, BVK, ASC, speaks about "L’angelo dei muri" ("The Angel in the Wall"), by Lorenzo Bianchini
"Space and Time" by François Reumont

Set almost exclusively in a dilapidated and dark apartment, Lorenzo Bianchini’s L’angelo dei muri (The Angel in the Wall) is a strange story mixing present and past, featuring a lonely old man threatened with eviction and new tenants. The result is particularly evocative of, both in its form and its staging, The others, by Alejandro Amenabar (2001). Austrian cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger was behind the camera on this film with few shots a very decisive choreography between actors and camera. A staging of space above all. (FR)

Michał Dymek, PSC, speaks about the shooting of "EO", by Jerzy Skolimowski
"Cinema and chance", by François Reumont

A tribute to Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar, EO, by Jerzy Skolimowski, took everyone by surprise on the first day of competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. At the end of the Fortnight, he won a deserved award from the jury and gave a hilarious speech in which the 84-year-old director thanked his equine actors. To mark the occasion of the screening of this film at Camerimage this year, the film’s cinematographer, Michał Dymek, aged 32, sat down with us to discuss this extraordinary collaboration situated between a road movie, a visual poem and an animal fable. (FR)

Interview with Vittorio Storaro, AIC, ASC, about his view of the profession, his career and his “Muses of Light” spots
Zeus and his Nine Daughters

Three-time Oscar winner Vittorio Storaro, who has been working with Woody Allen since 2015, is currently shooting in Paris. Billed as a return to the thriller genre (in the same vein as Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point, the two black pearls in his long filmography), this film is expected to be the New York filmmaker’s final film. In this interview, Vittorio Storaro, AIC, ASC, reflects on his mythical career, his definition of the role of a "Author of cinematography" (and not Director of photography) as well as on The Muses of Light, his exclusive series of LED spotlights and softlights developed with De Sisti and which were given the names of Zeus’ nine daughters. The full range is distributed in France by Dimatec, and Stéphane Samama, with whom we met him. (FR)

Ruben Impens, SBC, discusses the making of "The Eight Mountains" by Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix Van Groeningen
From the novel to the screen

Before becoming a writer, Paolo Cognetti was a student at Milan’s filmmaking school. This was put to good use in the making of this film, over which he kept a watchful eye “like a good guardian angel,” according to Ruben Impens, SBC. With The Eight Mountains, the first adaptation of his novel, the lover of alpine hiking seems to have found a duo of directors on the same wavelength as him. The result is an Italian-language ode to mountain peaks, a film about friendship and life’s unpredictable paths. Luca Marinelli and Alessandro Borghi are the two main actors. (FR)

Benjamin Loeb, FNF, discusses the making of "Sick of Myself" by Kristoffer Borgli
Beauty Mark

Norwegian cinematographer Benjamin Loeb, FNF, has two films in selection at Cannes this year: When You Finish Saving the World, the first feature by actor Jesse Eisenberg (Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network), and Sick of Myself, by his countryman Kristoffer Borgli. Two independent films shot on film (16 and 35mm 2 perf), testifying to the return of many projects at Cannes that have chosen film to translate their vision onto the screen. (FR)

Cinematographer Hooman Behmaanesh looks back on the set of "Leila’s Brothers", by Saeed Roustayi
24-Karat Gold

After the highly acclaimed Just 6.5, filmmaker Saeed Roustaee presents Leila’s Brothers at the 75th Cannes Festival. This is a family story whose themes are intimately linked to those of present-day Iranian society. Filmed largely in a modest apartment in the Iranian capital, the film shows great ingenuity in the way it handles the scenes with the six-member family. Hooman Behmaanesh talks to us about his experience as director of photography on this film. (FR)

Judith Kaufmann, BVK, discusses the technical and aesthetic choices made on "Corsage", by Marie Kreutzer
As Tears Go By

German filmmaker Marie Kreutzer, in a desire to give contemporary appeal to the somewhat fusty figure of the Empress of Austria, has decided to offer her own resolutely feminist version of this historical figure. Once she is tightly bound by the corset firmly laced around her wasp waist, Luxembourg actress Vicky Krieps becomes the embodiment of Sissi. In order to film this princess who is constantly engaged in an emotional flight, cinematographer Judith Kaufmann, BVK, produced very subtle work, in 3P 35mm film and spherical 2.39 format. This film was remarked during the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival in the "Un Certain Regard" official section. (FR)

Cinematographer David Gallego, ADFC, discusses his work on "War Pony", by Gina Gammel and Riley Keough

Producer Gina Gammel and actress Riley Keough decided to shoot their first feature film as co-directors in the heart of Pine Ridge Native American reservation, in South Dakota. War Pony is a film featuring non-professional actors, which describes the daily lives of several young people belonging to the Lakota tribe. This is also a deep dive into the lives of marginalized Americans, who live in mobile homes, and whose lives are severely impacted by drug trafficking. David Gallego, ADFC, a cinematographer originally from Columbia (I Am Not a Witch, by Rungano Nyoni, noticed at Cannes in 2017) took on this political and emotional film. (FR)

Darius Khondji, AFC, ASC, discusses his work on "Armageddon Time", by James Gray
Autumn in New York

A dark, autumnal film bathed in flickering golden sunlight, James Gray’s Armageddon Time is a feature film full of memories from its director. The story is composed of a gallery of characters all drawn from the director’s real childhood in the borough of Queens. At the center of the plot is a teenager in search of himself – played on screen by young actor Banks Repeta – surrounded by Anne Hathaway (his mother), Jeremy Strong (his father) and Anthony Hopkins (his grandfather). Darius Khondji, AFC, ASC was the mastermind behind this film’s visuals, creating a sober and soft image of mid-1980s New York, where hip hop music was being born just as the punk movement was slowly dying out. (FR)