Storaro and Bertolucci Celebrated at Milan International Film Festival

Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC was honored along with one of his renowned filmmaking collaborators, director Bernardo Bertolucci, at the 2018 Milan International Film Festival, where the duo each received the event’s Leonardo da Vinci Award.

MIFF director Andrea Galante feted the filmmakers with a special event titled “The Two Emperors” — a reference to the pair’s work together on The Last Emperor (1987), which earned nine Academy Awards, including the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography. The ceremony included clips from Emperor and eight other films Storaro and Bertolucci worked on together: Before the Revolution (on which Storaro served as an assistant cameraman), The Spider’s Strategem, The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, Luna, The Sheltering Sky and Little Buddha.

MIFF produced this short tribute video, which screened at the event:

“When we think of the ‘Millenary’ Italian art, the irresistible Mecca and eternal of infinitive artistic productions, it comes to mind the names of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Giotto... When we think at the young centenary art of the motion pictures, we recall illustrious names such as Vittorio Storaro,” says Galante of the cinematographer. “Sculptor of the light; painter of the frame; architect of the composition; sophisticated aesthetic, Vittorio Storaro has contributed to new horizons in the art of cinematography. He melds creativity and techniques and emerges with a distinguished pattern of visual language. The Da Vinci’s Horse statuette is a symbol of cinema communication, an award that recognizes the works of Art of Filmmaking by its authors, and I’m particularly proud of this celebration because I agree with Vittorio, who is so concerned about the term Cinematography: the ‘motion-picture photography.’ 

“‘Cinematography as is,’ NOT photography, which is equal to ‘Screenwriting as is’ NOT writing. In accordance with Vittorio, with the Da Vinci Award we highlight a specific skill and discipline, for a difficult art that shares with the environment of business many of the dynamics, and maybe that’s why it’s the most collaborative human expression: the Art of Cinema.”

Although Bertolucci could not attend the ceremony, Galante and Storaro saluted him from the stage. In an email sent to AC a few weeks after the festival (which took place from May 21-June 13), the cinematographer called his friend “a poet who writes with the film camera,” lauding Bertolucci for “how much I learned from him about language of cinema.”

On stage for the presentation are, from left, Galante, Storaro and presenter Piero Chiambretti. (Photo courtesy of MIFF)
(Photo courtesy of MIFF)

Storaro added that he personally delivered Bertolucci’s da Vinci Award to his friend during a visit to the director’s house. The award is fashioned after the artist’s famous horse sculpture, which was commissioned in 1482 by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro. “He was surprised at how heavy it was,” Storaro wrote. “Speaking with Bernardo is always a particularly poetic journey.”

Backstage, Galante and Storaro were joined by MIFF programming and communications staffer Filomena Velotto. (Photo courtesy of MIFF)

Following the Milan event, Storaro and ASC associate member Rob Hummel, founder and president of Group 47, Inc., made a presentation for Istituto Luce-Cinecittà, the Italian Film Archive and Cineteca di Bologna on DOTS, “a digital optical system for preservation of the past, present and future of worldwide motion-picture films.” The system, developed by Kodak but later acquired and enhanced by Group 47, allows data files to be converted into visual representations of the data on DOTS metal alloy tape, where it can be stored at room temperature. Storaro wrote, “We really hope that Istituto Luce-Cinecittà and the Rome and Bologna film archives will [help to] make this fundamental project become a reality.”

Storaro’s MIFF award, presented with pride in his home. 

Here are a few images from Storaro and Bertolucci’s exceptional collaboration:

Prima della Rivoluzione (1963)
Prima della Rivoluzione (1963)
Novecento (1974)
Novecento (1975)
L'ultimo Imperatore (1988)


L'ultimo Imperatore (1988)
L'ultimo Imperatore (1987)
Little Buddha (1994)
Little Buddha (1994)
MOMA Museum N.Y. (2009; photo by Douglas Kirkland)
The Sheltering Sky (1991)

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