The American Society of Cinematographers has tapped Kevin Brownlow for a special recognition award for his work in restoring and preserving silent films.
Kudos will be presented Feb. 8 at the 18th annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards at the Century Plaza Hotel.
“Kevin Brownlow has earned our gratitude and respect for his unflinching dedication to preserving an important part of our culture,” said Owen Roizman, chair of the org’s awards committee. “He has made incomparable contributions to illuminating our understanding of the early history of our art form. If not for his efforts, many important films and their history would have been lost forever.”
Brownlow has overseen restoration of endangered landmark films and authored several books, including “The Parade’s Gone By.” He also produced documentaries including “Abel Gance: The Charm of Dynamite,” “Unknown Chaplin,” “Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film,” “Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow” and “D.W. Griffith: Father of Film.”
Bridge to the past
Cinematographer John Bailey said many New Wave filmmakers were inspired by Griffith, Chaplin and other silent filmmakers. “Kevin Brownlow found and interviewed many of the early filmmakers and told their stories,” he added. “Whether you are a filmmaker or a fan, you are in his debt.”
Brownlow broke into the business at the age of 17 as an apprentice editor at a docu production house, then wrote, produced, directed and collaborated with Andrew Mollo on “It Happened Here,” based on the premise that the Nazis invaded England during World War II. It took him eight years to complete the film, which was released in 1966.
He joined Tony Richardson’s Woodfall Films Co. in 1966, where he edited “The White Bus” in 1967 and “The Charge of the Light Brigade in ’68. “How It Happened Here,” an account of how he produced his first film, and “The Parade’s Gone By” were both published in 1968.
“You can’t overstate the importance of ‘The Parade’s Gone By’ or his other magnificent and unparalleled efforts to preserve our heritage,” said ASC prexy Richard Crudo. “There is no category and little precedent for the tribute that we are presenting to Kevin Brownlow. We have only presented one other special tribute in the 18-year history of the ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards,” to critic Roger Ebert.