On last Saturday, June the 4th, to celebrate the work of esteemed women cinematographers and their contributions to the advancement of cinema as an art form, FiLM iNDEPENDENT hosted a special celebration for women cinematographers at the LA Film Festival with a brunch, where the Jaeger-LeCoultre "Glory to the Filmmaker Award" was given to cinematographer Maryse Alberti. Receiving the award in a venue in Culver City Hotel packed with female cinematographers she thanked all the women who have opened doors for other women and stated that she hopes to open doors for the next generation. In her very modest and quiet way she also said something really powerful: “We are going forward and nobody is going to stop us”.
The brunch was followed by a panel discussion with 5 inspiring female cinematographers: Maryse Alberti ASC (Velvet Goldmine; Wrestler; Creed), Joan Churchill ASC (Kurt&Courtney; Soldier Girls), Amy Vincent ASC (Footloose; Hustle&Flow), Tami Reiker ASC (Girl, Interrupted; High Art) and 2004 the ASC award winner Mandy Walker ASC, ACS (Australia). All the women had excerpts of their work shown, proving how unique each film and it’s shooting style was, an idea that was stressed by most of the panelists multiple times each film has it’s unique world and you approach every film differently. Although it was evident that big productions like Mandy Walker’s “Australia” and cinema verite style documentaries by Joan Churchill will have a completely different approach from the side of the cinematographer also because of the genre difference, the clips that were shown demonstrated a very distinctive individual approach by each cinematographer too.
The talk also covered, amongst others, the story of Maryse Alberti having to say in the early years of her career to a producer who asked “Can you handle big lights?”, “I don’t handle the big lights, but I have big men who handle those big lights” and the story by Joan Churchill who got into union in UK after three years of working there and read from her union card “lady cameraman”. It was the times when women were not seen often behind the camera.
The times have changed. In the future the industry will not speak of “female cinematographers”, like there is no talk any more about “male doctors” or “male teachers”. All of the presenters agreed that they don’t see themselves as female cinematographers, they see themselves as cinematographers and they think about being a woman only when someone reminds them of it. And this is hopefully a concept that the industry is ready to embrace — there are just cinematographers.