Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC Honored with George Eastman Award

Storaro examines the Sony F65 camera, which he used on his first digital feature, Café Society (2016), written and directed by Woody Allen

The George Eastman Museum will honor Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC with the George Eastman Award on Saturday, March 25.

Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC

Founded in 1947 in Rochester, New York, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active publishing program and, through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, makes critical contributions to the fields of film preservation and of photographic preservation and collection management.

The George Eastman Award for distinguished contribution to the art of film — by actors, directors, and cinematographers — was established by the museum in 1955 to recognize that same commitment in individuals. The George Eastman Award was the first film award given by a U.S. cultural institution to honor artistic work of enduring value. The first two presentations of the award, in 1955 and 1957, known as the Festival of Film Artists, recognized the legends of the silent film era.

On the set of the epic historical drama Reds, Warren Beatty takes a turn at the eyepiece as Storaro observes.

The Eastman Award honor recognizes Vittorio Storaro’s distinguished contribution to the art of film. The first cinematographer to receive this award in 40 years, he joins the company of such film greats as Frank Capra, Charles Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Cecil B. DeMille, Michael Douglas, John Ford, Greta Garbo, Lillian Gish, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Martin Scorsese, James Stewart and Meryl Streep.

Director Bernardo Bertolucci checks the frame under Storaro’s watchful eye while shooting the period drama 1900.

“Good cinematographers effectively translate the writer’s ideas, the actors’ performances, and the director’s visions to moving images. A great cinematographer deepens all of these elements and creates a transcendent visual experience for the viewer,” said Bruce Barnes, Ron and Donna Fielding Director, George Eastman Museum. Previous cinematographers who have received the George Eastman Award include ASC greats William Daniels, Arthur Edeson, George Folsey, Lee Garmes, James Wong Howe, Peverell Marley, Hal Mohr, Charles Rosher, Hal Rosson, John Seitz and Karl Struss (who was the last cinematographer to receive the award, in 1976).

Storaro and Bertolucci while filming The Conformist.

The Eastman Museum will celebrate Storaro’s work with three special events in March, and a series of 11 films that will screen at the Dryden Theatre throughout March and April: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Last Tango in Paris (1972), Apocalypse Now Redux (1979/2001), Dick Tracy (1990), Muhammad: The Messenger of God (2015), One from the Heart (1981), The Last Emperor (1987), Goya in Bordeaux (1999), Ladyhawke (1985), The Sheltering Sky (1990) and Little Buddha (1993).

Storaro and crew during the filming of Apocalypse Now on location in The Philippines.
Storaro and crew during the filming of Apocalypse Now on location in The Philippines.

Strapped in, Storaro prepares to operate while filming Apocalypse Now

“We are honored to present the George Eastman Award to Vittorio Storaro — a true painter with light,” said Barnes. “He is perhaps the only master cinematographer who excels at his art and craft while consciously, constantly, and vocally reflecting upon it. We are thrilled that he will be joining us in Rochester to accept the award.”

During that stay there, the cinematographer will personally introduce select screenings of his work at the Dryden Theater.

Storaro and Bertolucci on location in China shooting The Last Emperor.
Storaro and Bertolucci on location in China shooting The Last Emperor.

Among many other honors, Storaro was presented with the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, and earned ASC Award nominations for his exceptional work in The Last Emperor, Dick Tracy and the TV mini-series Dune.

Storaro checks his contrast while filming The Last Emperor on location within the Forbidden City.

Storaro observes from the dolly as director Francis Coppola (bottom) stages action during the filming of Apocalypse Now.

Storaro plots a tracking shot.

On location in Spain with Storaro and Steadicam inventor and operator Garrett Brown.

Coppola and Storaro while filming a segment of the anthology New York Stories.

Storaro and Bertolucci compose a low-angle shot.

Woody Allen and Storaro during the shooting of the period romance Café Society.

From left, Storaro and Fred Goodich, ASC outside the ASC Clubhouse during the 2016 International Cinematography Summit. Photo by Steven Poster, ASC
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