Stephen Burum’s golden homage to bygone CinemaScope epics in “Hoffa” was awarded the American Society of Cinematographers’ theatrical award at the seventh annual ASC awards Sunday evening.

Burum, in New York working on “Carlito’s Way,” did not attend. In a prepared message, he credited others, including teachers, for any favorable reflection on his work.

However, one ASC member insisted the award was long overdue to Burum both for his craft and his strong passion for preserving the history of the art of cinematography. His credits include “The Untouchables,””Rumble Fish” and “The War of the Roses.”

Oscar winner Vilmos Zsigmond’s work on HBO’s “Stalin” was accorded honors in ASC’s movie of the week/pilot category and Roy H. Wagner received the miniseries honors for “Drug Wars.” The series prize went to John C. Flinn III for an episode of “Jake and the Fatman.”

The annual awards, voted by the roughly 150 active members of the ASC, are rarely an early warning signal for Oscar or a duplication of Emmy winners.

Only once has it shared an Academy Award winner and has fared only marginally better with the Emmy.

The clip- and homage-laden evening was in need of an unsentimental film editor.

Much time was consumed by simple mechanics and technical cues.

But there was also magic.

The society’s first Intl. Award to three-time Oscar-winner Freddie Young earned two standing ovations — one out of respect for such films as “Lawrence of Arabia,””Lust for Life,””Ivanhoe” and “Doctor Zhivago,” and another for the charm and storytelling skill the 90-year-old conveyed in his acceptance speech.

Rod Steiger, in his introduction, called Young a “poet, painter and teacher in his choice of what light and what shadow to use in film.”

Screenwriter Fay Kanin was awarded the board of governors award, which is given periodically to someone from another entertainment field.

Two-time Oscar winner HaskellWexler, the lifetime achievement honoree, was the evening’s big-time loser. Sensing the late hour, Wexler cut short remarks and hurried through his speech. However, never one to eschew controversy or conviction, he set the tone of his words by decryingthe general quality of film images from the past decade as “not too good.”

“Just doing one’s job is not the answer,” he said. “Anyone can take pictures, but an artist must work at his craft. … An artist is the conscience of the people, an artist questions authority. We areprivileged, and with that comes a tremendous responsibility.”

The evening closed with the unveiling of the ASC’s 75th anniversary logo in advance of the Jan. 4, 1994, event. It is the oldest technical/artistic association of the motion picture industry.

VP Victor Kemper made proud reference to the ASC’s involvement with the documentary “Visions of Light”– chronicling the art of cinematography — which begins a theatrical run in L.A. tomorrow.

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