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Sophie Maintigneux - France - Germany
The Cinematographer Award
Sophie Maintigneux
Sophie Maintigneux is the recipient of TheWIFTS Cinematographer Award 2017, for the extensive body of work of over 70 feature films and documentaries in European Cinema and Television.

Sophie Maintigneux was born in Antony (France). After training as an assistant camera operator, she began working as a cinematographer in 1984.

Maintigneux has been the Director of Photography on over 70 fiction feature films and documentaries to date. Maintigneux has worked with Eric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard, Michael Klier, Jan Schütte, Rudolf Thome, Helga Reidemeister, Philipp Gröning, Marcel Gisler, Judith Kennel, Lilo Mangelsdorff, Erica von Moeller, Maria Teresa Camoglio, Michael Radford, Mareike Wegener, and Ingo Haeb.

The feminist magazine Another Gaze published an article in 2016 on the first film The Green Ray she worked on with Eric Rohmer. Extract from: A Woman’s Art: Sophie Maintigneux, Eric Rohmer And Female Friendship: Rohmer’s interest in and sympathy with heterosexual women struggling to reconcile their desire for independence with their yearning for sexual fulfilment and male companionship intensified in the 1980s, with his ‘Comedies and Proverbs’ series frequently featuring lead female characters. However, it was not until his decision in the mid-1980s to undertake two self-consciously different film projects – both of which privileged the New Wave values of spontaneity, improvisation, realism and youth – that he embodied the idea of a new gaze on the feminine by employing Sophie Maintigneux.

After a minor acting role as a child of 11, Maintigneux had decided that she wanted to work behind the camera. She gained experience working alongside Elisabeth Prouvost, director of photography on Marc Jolivet’s Ote-toi de mon soleil (1984). Working as assistant DP on Jacques Nichet’s La guerre des demoiselles (1983), she met Claudine Nougaret, who was employed in an assistant role to the sound recordist. Nougaret introduced her to Rohmer, who was specifically looking for a female DP for his next film project.

Having impressed the director with a test film shot around the Square Brignole-Galliera in Paris, she was hired as cinematographer for The Green Ray as part of a small female crew, all in their mid-twenties: Nougaret on sound, Françoise Etchegarary as production manager and Marie Rivière as lead actress and co-scriptwriter. According to Etchegaray, Rohmer chose this young, female crew to support and provide friendly company for Rivière in her emotionally demanding role as the lonely, depressed Delphine. His attempt at creating camaraderie paid off: the four women named themselves, along with Rohmer, as ‘le club des cinq’ (‘the gang of five’).

Before employing Maintigneux, Rohmer had only taken on male cinematographers, chiefly Néstor Almendros, who went on to a successful Hollywood career, winning an Oscar for Days of Heaven (1978).

Rohmer’s decision to work with a young woman was remarkable then and remains so today: cinematography is still a highly male-dominated occupation, as Alison Smith’s 2012 investigation ‘Les chef-opératrices’ shows. In 2009, only ten of the prestigious Association Française des Directeurs de la Photographie Cinématographique (AFC)’s 107 members were women (in 2017 there are only 11) The American Society of Cinematographers counts only seven women among its 334 listed active members. (in 2017 there are only 11) *

Sophie Maintigneux latest project - a work in progress.

Her catalogue of film credits includes (among others): Le Rayon vert (1984), Les quatre aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle (1985), King Lear (1987), Überall ist es besser, wo wir nicht sind (1988), Rupture (1988), Winkelmanns Reisen (1990), Ostkreuz (1991), Liebe auf den ersten Blick (1991), Rosa Negra (1991), Das Tripas Coração (1992), Frankie, Johnny und die anderen (1992), Küss mich (1994), F. est un salaud (1997), L' amour, l' argent, l' amour (2000), Heidi M. (2000), Gotteszell (2000), Venus Boy's (2001), NeuFundLand (2001), Liebe und Verlangen (2002), Damen und Herren ab 65 (2002), Siehst du mich? (2004), Hannah (2006), Alter und Schönheit (2008), Fräulein Stines fährt um die Welt (2008), Die dünnen Mädchen (2008), Liebe Geschichte (2009), Michel Petrucciani (2010), Mark Lombardi -Kunst und Konspiration (2011), Rosie (2012), Sternstunde meines Leben (2013), Das Zimmermädchen, Lynn (2014), CinéKino (2015), Der Primus. Franz Joseph Strauß (2015), Unsichtbare Helden (2016), Mario (2017), Widerstandsmomente (2017).

In 1990 Sophie was presented with the German Film Critics' Association Award for Best Photography. Her other awards and nominations include: Best Photography Award at the Dignes Film Festival (1989), Best Photography from Hessen Federal State (1990), the Max Ophüls Festival: Femina Award (2001), a Camerimage Golden Frog nomination (2001), Silver Award at the 22nd International Film Camera Festival in Vitola (2001), Best Photography at the 45th Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival (2002), the German Camera Award in the Documentary Category (2003 and 2009), plus a nomination for the same award in 2006 and another for the German Camera Award in the Feature Film category (2007).

She has taught at several film schools, chiefly at the DFFB (German Film and Television Academy Berlin). She is currently a professor at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. She is currently based in Berlin and holds dual German–French nationality.

Extract courtesy of Another Gaze which is a feminist film journal, founded in January 2016, and established to highlight the gender inequality of the film industry and amplify the voices of great, often overlooked, filmmakers who identify as women.


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