At this year's Berlinale, French cinematographer Caroline Champetier will be awarded the Berlinale Camera. With this award, the film festival has been honoring personalities and institutions since 1986 who have rendered outstanding services to filmmaking and with whom the festival feels connected.
While the award has a camera in its name, it rarely goes to cinematographers - many actors and film critics have received it over the years, as have directors, producers or other trades. The only cinematographer we could discover in the list of previous winners was Michael Ballhaus (2006). Far less known, Caroline Champetier can look back on more than 100 films as a cinematographer; the best known - and certainly the most peculiar - among them probably "Holy Motors" by Leos Carax.
Champetier has shot just about all of Carax's more recent films-the first time they worked together was in 2008 for a sequence in the episodic film "Tokyo!" She was shooting with the Panasonic DVX 100 at the time, "like playing a violin," as she described it in an interview, and Carax himself says it was through Champetier that he discovered digital filming. They also made the film "Annette" together (2021) - you can read about the shooting in detail in this interview.
Champetier's career spans from 1979 to the present, beginning with shoots for François Truffaut and Jacques Rivette, Chantal Akerman's "Toute une nuit" and several shorts and features by Jean-Luc Godard. Since then, she has worked with the great stars of French cinema, including Xavier Beauvois, Leos Carax, Arnaud Desplechin, Jacques Doillon, Anne Fontaine, Philippe Garrel, Benoît Jacquot, Claude Lanzmann, as well as international filmmakers such as Margarethe von Trotta, Wang Chao, Amos Gitai and Nobuhiro Suwa.
Known for her outstanding talent, Caroline Champetier has received numerous awards - most notably the César for Best Cinematography, the Gianni di Venanzo Award in 2011 for Xavier Beauvois' "Of Men and Gods" and the Silver Frog at Camerimage 2012 for "Holy Motors". She was nominated four more times for the César: for "Holy Motors" (2012), "The Innocents" (2016), "The Guardians" (2017) and "Annette" (2021). For the latter, she received the Prix Lumières in 2022.
Caroline Champetier's recent work includes the film "The Damned Don't Cry" by Fyzal Boulifa, which was screened at the 2022 Venice Film Festival, and she has just finished shooting "Cliquot" with Haley Bennett, Sam Riley and Tom Sturridge.