Austria’s Christian Berger, whose black-and-white cinematography for “The White Ribbon” distinguished him from the competition, won top honors in the feature film category at the 24th American Society of Cinematographers gala, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on Saturday night.
It was only the second time that a d.p. for a foreign-language feature received the ASC’s feature kudo since the org started handing out competitive awards in 1986. French d.p. Bruno Delbonnel, who lensed 2004’s “A Very Long Engagement,” was the first.
Berger, who has been collaborating with “Ribbon” director Michael Haneke for almost 20 years, has divvied up the lion’s share of d.p. laurels this awards season with “The Hurt Locker’s” ASC nominee Barry Ackroyd. Both are also nominated for an Oscar.
At the podium, Berger noted that journalists have been asking him these past weeks which award he prefers: that of the ASC or the Academy: “I think you know the answer,” he stated.
Another of the evening’s dual Acad/ASC nominees, Robert Richardson, has won two Oscars but has yet to win an ASC award despite being nominated nine times.
Eagle Egilsson earned one of the two TV awards for lensing the “Venice Kings” episode of TNT’s “Dark Blue” series, while Alar Kivilo won in the miniseries/pilot category for HBO’s “Taking Chance.”
Caleb Deschanel, a three-time ASC nominee who won the feature film kudo for 2001’s “The Patriot,” drank up the love in the room as he received his lifetime achievement award. He used the occasion to extol the primacy of film vs. digital. “I love pushing the limits of film and fearing that it won’t work,” he said, noting that it’s the very unpredictable nature of film that makes it so dramatic and compelling.
Brit d.p. Chris Menges accepted the org’s Intl. Award.
Other honorary recipients were Sol Negrin, who accepted the President’s Award, and John C. Flinn, who drew the career achievement in television award.
Cinematographer Tom Stern, a frequent Clint Eastwood collaborator, presented the Board of Governors Award to the Oscar-nominated Morgan Freeman (“Invictus”) in recognition of the actor’s body of work and contributions to the art of filmmaking.