Delbonnel Honored with Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography Award at Cannes

Delbonnel checks his light on actor Oscar Isaac while shooting Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) for directors Joel and Ethan Coen. (Photo by Alison Cohen/Rosa Freres Coen; photo at top of page by Mitya Ganopolsky) 
Optics company also recognizes next-generation cinematographers with prize given to Indian director of photography Modhura Palit.

Since 2013 — as an official partner of the Cannes Film FestivalAngénieux has been paying a tribute to a prominent director of photography with their Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography ceremony.

The 2019 honoree — Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC — will be presented during the 72nd Cannes Film Festival (May 14-25), the ceremony will be held on Friday, May 24, at 8:00 pm, in the Buñuel Theater, Palais des Festivals.

The previous ExcelLens recipients are Philippe Rousselot, ASC, AFC (2013); Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC (2014); Roger A. Deakins, ASC, BSC (2015); Peter Suschitzky, ASC (2016); Christopher Doyle, HKSC (2017) and Edward Lachman, ASC (2018).

Delbonnel shooting on location in Colorado for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. (Photo by Alison Cohen/Rosa Freres Coen)
Delbonnel shooting on location in Colorado for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. (Photo by Alison Cohen/Rosa Freres Coen)

As the company notes: 

“This event turns the spotlight on worldwide masters of light, directors of photography, without whom cinema would not exist.

“The evening will be opened by Thierry Frémaux, presented by French journalist Pierre Zéni, and in presence of some of Delbonnel’s closest collaborators.

“Born in Nancy in 1957, Delbonnel first studied philosophy, then graduated from ESEC in the camera and light section, before making 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 15 years for commercials and some feature films, then as a DOP.

“His career took on an international dimension in 2001, thanks to his collaboration with Jean-Pierre Jeunet

“For 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 with short focal length, shots framed at 27mm, his preferred focal length.

The cinematographer confers with director Tim Burton.

“Now 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).

The cinematographer examines his light.

“His collaborations have earned 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 Davisin 2014 and Darkest Hour in 2018).

Cinematographer Modhura Palit

“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.

“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.

“Palit 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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