IndieWire reached out to the directors of photography whose feature films are premiering at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival to find out which cameras and lenses they used and, more importantly, why these were the right tools to create the look and visual language of these highly anticipated films.
Page 1: Competition (Palme d’Or Contenders)
Page 2: Out of Competition, Premieres, and Special Screenings
Page 3: Un Certain Regard and Critics’ Week
Page 4: Directors’ Fortnight
(Films are in alphabetical order by title.)
Competition (Palme d’Or Contenders)
“Annette” cinematographer Caroline Champetier
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Dir: Leos Carax, DoP: Caroline Champetier
Format: RAW XOCN XT 4K and 6K
Camera: 2 Sony Venice and 2 Sony Alpha 7SII
Lens: Zeiss Supreme, Optimo Angenieux 48-76mm, Optimo Angenieux 25-250mm
Champetier: We needed a camera that was good with blacks and colors, and for now the Sony Venice is performing on both of these points. On a Carax movie, each sequence is different so you have to be as flexible you can be. Not too heavy a lens, with the possibility to have the camera on a crane, on a dolly, on a shoulder, or on your knees. Even on a movie like this, there is not enough money, so I had to mix modern lenses and these old zooms, but it was very interesting to grade them together and to keep the blacks more textured and voluptuous. You have to be open to understand what the tools give you.
On the set of “Bergman Island”
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Dir: Mia Hansen-Løve, DoP: Denis Lenoir
Format: 35mm 2 perf, 2.39 ratio
Camera: ArriCam Lite
Lens: Leitz Summilux primes, Fujinon Premier zoom
Lenoir: I like the way these two sets of lenses, the Summilux primes and Fujinon Premier, perfectly match. I am not a big fan of flare and with these lenses I can shoot against windows with minimum degradation.
On the set of “Casablanca Beats”
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Dir: Nabil Ayouch, DoP: Virginie Surdej & Amine Messadi
Format: 4K XAVC
Camera: Sony FS7
Lens: Canon EF zoom lenses ( 28-70mm/70-200mm/24-105mm) and primes
Surdej & Messadi: “Casablanca Beats” tells the story of a hip hop class in a cultural center for youth in the suburbs of Casablanca. It is a fictional and musical film inspired by reality with a political and social dimension to it. We started to shoot the movie with the idea of a film, rather than a script. The film was shot and built upon several different shooting blocks over a long period of time. We wanted to have as small a crew as possible, so that we could be free, light and flexible. We didn’t have a focus puller. After our first shooting test and screening of that material, which carried all the spontaneity and life of the youth, we opted for two Sony FS7 cameras and Canon EF lenses (both zooms and primes).
On the set of “Drive My Car”
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“Drive My Car”
Dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, DoP: Hidetoshi Shinomiya
Camera: Arri Alexa mini
Lens: Zeiss ultra prime, Angenieux HR zoom
Shinomiya: The film crew needed to have a minimal presence on this film, because the cast was the primary focus and the crew respected this. The direction of Ryusuke Hamaguchi restrains the emotion of the images as much as possible, putting the emphasis on the acting. We needed to depict accurately what happened before the camera, and we could capture the charm of the subjects directly thanks to the expressiveness of Zeiss ultra prime. By using the Alexa mini, we had a rich expressiveness and stable mobility to grasp the moments, which happened inevitably and accidentally through the direction’s approach.
“Flag Day” cinematographer Daniel Moder
Dir: Sean Penn, DoP: Daniel Moder
Format: Super16 mm. Kodak 50D, 250D and 500T film stock
Camera: ARRI 416
Lens: Zeiss 16mm Ultra primes, rounded out with 85 and 135 from a 35mm set, 10-30mm T1.6 Cooke, ARRI Swing and Tilt 24 and 45mm
Moder: All of these elements together provided an undeniable film look. We set out to honor the true story written about a girl growing up in the ’70s and piecing together her disjointed memories of her family. Film allowed us to express the vision closer to the way our memories work, things bleeding together with interesting surprises revealed as we look back. The smaller, faster lenses allowed enough exposure along with the dreamy fall off when we needed it. The opening sequence utilized the Swing and Tilt lenses that really drove home the idea of selective memory and how fragmented memories shift focus as you see the past.
The size of the 16 mm allowed us freedom to move around with a simple camera build and put the camera in interesting places, and where we weren’t tethered to countless monitors. We confidently captured the story and really had very few eyes and opinions on the frames and performances. The simplicity allowed us to streamline the process and find consistency to the language of the film.
“The French Dispatch”
“The French Dispatch”
Dir: Wes Anderson, DoP: Robert Yeoman
Format: 35mm film
Camera: Arricam ST
Lens: Cooke S4 and Cooke anamorphic
Yeoman: Wes and I have used the Cooke lenses since “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” We liked the “cooke look” and decided to continue with them on The French Dispatch.”
“Lingui, the Sacred Bounds” cinematographer Mathieu Giombini
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“Lingui, The Sacred Bounds”
Dir: Mahamat Saleh Haroun, DoP: Mathieu Giombini
Format: 7K REDRAW
Camera: RED Monstro
Lens: Primo Panavision 70
Giombini: We choose a 2.40 ratio. We didn’t want this film to have a documentary style, so we thought about specific techniques that could help us with that, and this ratio was one of them. We first thought about using anamorphic lenses, but our budget didn’t allow for a new set of anamorphic lenses. The old ones could have worked, but Haroun wants to minimize everything that called attention to the presence of the camera, and the older anamorphics have a big reframing movement every time you pull the focus. So, in order to keep the same focal length reflection, we opted for a large format camera, and the spherical Primo 70 lenses.
In the script, many scenes were night scenes. N’Djamena is not like Paris or New York. There is one street lamp every 100m, but very often none. I did not have powerful lightning equipment because getting electricity was also an issue, so I had to get fast lenses that worked in low light. These lenses open at T2.0 which was great. I’ve always loved Primo lenses, the quality of the shades and fall off of the focus were a real pleasure to work with.
“Nitram” cinematographer Germain McMicking
Dir: Justin Kurzel, DoP: Germain McMicking
Format: 3.4K OpenGate ARRIRAW – 1.55:1 Aspect
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini, Alexa XT, Sony Video8
Lens: Panavision Ultra Speeds and Panavision Primo Zooms
McMicking: “Nitram” is a very intimate family drama and tragedy set in 1990s suburban Australia. Director Justin Kurzel wanted this film to be both beautiful and brittle, and to visually hold both a sense of reality and fable. We wanted to often feel physically close to the characters, and allow the camera freedom to instinctually follow the performances throughout. Shooting mostly handheld with the small form of the Alexa Mini on spherical lenses allowed for this proximity. It also allowed me to dance with the incredible cast, the shifting weight of their performance, and varying point of view.
While sifting through reference material of Australia during the 90’s, we were drawn to how well the suburban landscape and interiors sat within the more open frame of 35mm stills. After some testing we settled on a slightly unusual aspect of 1.55:1, which utilizes the full sensor of the Alexa Mini at 3.4K. We loved the way the aspect ratio centered the characters, weighted and isolated them to earth, as there was often a sense of the air and the spirits above.
We were looking for a softness and femininity to the look of this film, searching for a certain texture as though it was printed on paper. A look which would be evocative of the era. The Panavision UltraSpeeds were a perfect accompaniment to the Alexa sensor in achieving this. The inherent softness and character in the vintage glass opened up the shadows, and brought some subtle halation to the highlights. They’re beautiful lenses, textural and lyrical. We mostly used the UltraSpeed 50mm T1.0, which has many different personalities at different stops. It falls apart so beautifully wide open. At times we also lent into the great latitude of the Alexa sensor, almost letting eyes disappear, or building up the texture in the shadows. Conrad Hall’s work was always an inspiration.
“Paris 13th District”
“Paris 13th District”
Dir: Jacques Audiard, DoP: Paul Guilhaume
Format: Sony xocn 6k, color, for a black and white render
Camera: 2 Sony Venice, one mainly for handheld and dolly, the other one on a Steadicam
Lens: Summilux lenses and angenieux Zooms, plus a custom size of the sensor of 33,08mm when using the Summilux for an approximate resolution of 4.9k
Guilhaume: Jacques Audiard wanted a “brilliant black and white.” I tried to capture an image close to silver, the highlights of which would resemble Anders Petersen’s photographs. The texture of the Venice combined with the Summilux gives the image a brightness, and we reinforced it with the creation of the LUTS by reinforcing the micro contrasts locally. We shot in color to have the power, in calibration, to key the saturated elements and to change the density when we wanted in calibration. So many costumes were red or yellow and the walls painted in blue and green.
This quest for the brightness involved trying to maintain a reference of pure white and pure black in almost every frame to allow the eye to continually calibrate itself.
Jacques often spoke of the modern beauty of a “face lit by a screen.” At night, the sensitivity of the Venice and the openness of the Summilux made it possible to turn the lights of screens and telephones and tablets to constitute the environment of our characters.
This pair of optical cameras also allowed us to shoot in natural light in the apartment on the 20thfloor of the character Emilie. The décor of the apartment was entirely windows and rather than trying to preserve the reflections of Paris in the window by artificially re-lighting, we covered all the windows with Roscow View polarizing gelatin. By a principle of double polarization we could regulate the luminosity of the surfaces by a simple rotation of the polarizer placed in front of the camera without affecting the interior. The process takes a lot of light and therefore requires an extremely sensitive camera.
“Petrov’s Flu” cinematographer Vladislav Opelyants
Dir: Serebrennikov Kirill, DoP: Vladislav Opelyants
Format: 2.8K ARRIRAW
Camera: Arri Alexa LF
Lens: Hawk Anamorphic Lenses and ARRI Anamorphic
Opelyants: It was our conceptual and creative decision to use two different types of lenses in order to visually emphasize the construction of the film’s plot taking place in two different time periods. Hawk Anamorphic lenses were used for the central storyline giving us an opportunity to create a more poetic image on the screen. And we used the ARRI Anamorphic lenses to create a more accurate screen image for another time period. Alexa LF was the perfect camera for this film in how it accurately corresponded to our visual vision and artistic solution. “Petrov’s Flu” was shot in color and black & white images, that decision allowed to us emphasize different stylistic and temporary solutions.
Dir: Sean Baker, DoP: Drew Daniels
Format: Super 16 Anamorphic
Camera: Arris SR-3
Lens: 16mm and 50mm Panavision 1.44x Auto Panatars, Canon zoom
Daniels: “Red Rocket” was screaming to be shot on film and going super-16 anamorphic with only two focal lengths felt like the perfect combination of opposite formats that reflected the stripped down storytelling and combination of extremes that we were embracing. We shot in Southeast Texas and the vibrant colors, textures and light were perfect for capturing on film. I also love that super-16 anamorphic is a seldom shot format that is hard to pin down. It felt akin to shooting 2-perf 35mm but with a twist.
“The Story of My Wife” cinematographer Marcel Rév
“The Story of My Wife”
Dir: Ildykó Enyedi, Dir: Marcell Rév
Format: 35mm film, 3-perf 5219 film stock
Camera: Arricam LT
Lens: Zeiss standard speeds
Rév: The movie takes place in the 1920s and we wanted to be true to the visual memories we have from that era, so shooting on film was an obvious choice. We tried to capture the freshness of a progressive Europe at the time with saturated colors, and shapes and compositions of a modernist approach. At the same time we didn’t wanted to draw too much attention from the story with our tools, we tried to avoid for our lens choices and aspect ratio to become statements of their own. 1.85:1 aspect and old Zeiss glass helped us to keep the focus on the essence of the story.
Dir: Julia Ducournau, DoP: Ruben Impens
Format: 4.4k pro res / cropped 2:39
Camera: Arri Mini LF
Lens: Zeiss Supreme P
Impens: We wanted something, sharp and harsh and in your face. Little or no distortion. Not romantic and soft, so modern lenses and a large format sensor helped to achieve this.
“The Worst Person in the World” Cinematographer Kasper Tuxen
“The Worst Person in the World”
Dir: Joachim Trier, DoP: Kasper Tuxen
Camera: ArriCam LT
Lens: Cooke 5/i
Tuxen: Joachim and I believe that film is the best way to show human skin tones. Also, we love the whole process and discipline of the medium. We chose the cooke 5/i lenses because I needed speed and we felt they added a slight softness without being nostalgic.
Next page: Out of Competition, Premieres, and Special Screenings
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