Known for films including The City of Lost Children, Seven, Evita and Uncut Gems, the cinematographer will be celebrated on May 27.
Angénieux has announced that Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC will be this year’s Pierre Angénieux Tribute honoree. An official partner of the Cannes Film Festival since 2013, the optics manufacturer has hosted this event every year since 2013 to celebrate an exceptional cinematographer’s career.
Taking place on Friday, May 27, at 8:00pm in the Buñuel Theater, Palais des Festivals, the special ceremony will be opened by General Delegate Thierry Frémaux and presented by French journalist Pierre Zéni. As the Angénieux announcement notes, “This event represents a unique opportunity to spotlight cinematography professionals, without whom cinema would not exist.”
The French-Iranian cinematographer will be the ninth director of photography to receive this prestigious tribute, following Philippe Rousselot, ASC, AFC (2013); Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC (2014); Roger A. Deakins, ASC, BSC (2015); Peter Suschitzky, ASC (2016); Christopher Doyle, HKSC (2017); Edward Lachman, ASC (2018); Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC (2019); and Agnès Godard, AFC (2021).
The Angénieux release continues: “Khondji has shot in France several times, with Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, among others. His career, however, has primarily been built internationally, along with such leading figures as David Fincher, Bernardo Bertolucci, Alan Parker, Neil Jordan, Roman Polanski, Danny Boyle, Woody Allen, Sydney Pollack, Michael Haneke, Wong Kar-wai, James Gray, Bong Joon-ho, Nicolas Winding Refn, Joshua and Ben Safdie, and, most recently, with Alejandro González Iñarritú.”
In addition to being the laureate at the Tribute, Khondji will teach an in-person cinematography master class on the morning of Thursday, May 26, moderated by journalist Jordan Mintzer of The Hollywood Reporter, author of the book Conversations with Darius Khondji.
“I am very attached to optics, the cinematographer explained to Philippe Parreno during a conversation held at the Cinémathèque Française in 2017. “It's not always rational, more in the realm of inspiration, but it has had an enormous importance since the beginning of my work. I am attached to the shape of the camera, its proximity to the body, to the eye.”
“This event represents a unique opportunity to spotlight cinematography professionals, without whom cinema would not exist.”
Khondji has been interested in cinema since childhood, when, around the age of 12, he shot films in Super 8. Born October 21, 1955 in Tehran, Iran, he was three years old when his family moved to France. In 1976, he chose to attend film school in the United States, taking courses at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York while regularly visiting museums. After spending two years in the USA, he returned to France and decided to pursue the profession of director of photography. He became the second assistant camera to Eduardo Serra, ASC, AFC and then an assistant director. Later meeting cinematographer Bruno Nuytten, AFC (Brubaker, Camille Claudel) was decisive. After a stint as an assistant operator, he began to produce images for advertisements and music videos (including “Tandem” by Vanessa Paradis, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino).
Khondji’s career as a cinematographer started in 1990 with the feature Treasure of the Bitch Islands by François-Jacques Ossang. This was followed by Delicatessen (1993) and The City of Lost Children (1995) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro.
Khondji first worked abroad in 1995, with David Fincher on the influential thriller Seven. For him it was the beginning of a long career in Hollywood, Europe, Asia, and, most recently, Mexico, with Alejandro González Iñarritú on the forthcoming feature Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths). Khondji has also collaborated with such directors as Bernardo Bertolucci (Stealing Beauty), Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris, To Rome with Love), James Gray (The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z), Roman Polanski (The Ninth Gate), Michael Haneke (Funny Games, Amour), Bong Joon-ho (Okja), Nicolas Wending Refn (Too Old to Die Young) and Joshua and Ben Safdie (Uncut Gems).
His most recent project with Gray, the upcoming Armageddon Time, will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Alongside his film career, Khondji has also been the cinematographer for some of the many music videos directed by Chris Cunningham, including “Frozen” for Madonna, “Afrika Shox” for Leftfield, and Jay-Z’s “Marcy Me,” directed by Joshua and Ben Safdie. He also renewed his partnership with French visual artist Philippe Parreno on various projects.
Among other honors, Khondji earned ASC and BSC Award nomination for his provocative camerawork in Seven, followed by Academy, ASC, BSC and BAFTA nominations Evita, and a third ASC nomination for The Immigrant.
Alongside the Pierre Angénieux Tribute given to an established cinematographer, Angénieux has been highlighting the promising work of new talent with the Angénieux Special Encouragement prize, created in 2018. This year, during the same ceremony, Dutch cinematographer Evelin van Rei will be honored with this distinction, which will allow her to use Angénieux’s lens technology on her next project.
The London-based filmmaker and photographer has been interested in cinema since the age of 11. She decided to study at the Cambridge School of Art in England, where she discovered her fascination with the art of creating images.
She is the first self-taught cinematographer to receive the Angénieux endowment, and follows French-Mexican cinematographer Pamela Albarrán (2021), Indian cinematographer Modhura Palit (2019) and Chinese cinematographer Cécile Zhang (2018). Like her predecessors, she will benefit from the support of Angénieux throughout the upcoming year.