‘Armageddon Time’ Cinematographer Darius Khondji Delivers Cannes Masterclass: ‘It’s Just So Sexy To Shoot On Film’

Darius Khondji
©Pauline Maillet

Revered cinematographer Darius Khondji loves to shoot on film but has made his peace with digital, he revealed in a masterclass at Cannes on Thursday.

“It’s just so sexy to shoot on film, the texture is beautiful, it looks great on skin tones,” Khondji said. Khondji said that digital can be very beautiful too but it can make make cinematographers lazy. Khondji’s first experience of shooting digitally was on Nicolas Winding Refn’s Amazon Prime Video series “Too Old to Die Young.” He initially thought that the series would be shot on film, because Refn asked him to shoot it while at a Kodak lunch in Cannes.

The cinematographer eventually reconciled to the idea of shooting digital after conversations with Refn and running several tests with digital cameras.

“He convinced me that it would be very experimental and frankly, we could really be very free on it,” said Khondji. “It was incredible.”

Khondji shot “The Immigrant” and “The Lost City of Z” for James Gray and their latest film together “Armageddon Time” is in competition at Cannes. Khondji said that the film was put together just days before the film’s premiere and that there’s more post-production work left on it after the festival.

During the masterclass Khondji also described the experience of working with the Safdie brothers on “Uncut Gems” and praised their energy and that of star Adam Sandler. He said that he was fortunate enough to have worked with very strong filmmakers. Khondji was Oscar nominated for Alan Parker’s “Evita” and has worked with Wong Kar-Wai on “My Blueberry Nights,” Bernardo Bertolucci on “Stealing Beauty,” Michael Haneke on “Amour,” David Fincher on “Panic Room” and “Se7en,” Bong Joon-ho on “Okja,” Danny Boyle on “The Beach” and on several films with Woody Allen. Next up is “Bardo” for Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu.

Khondji was in conversation with Jordan Mintzer, author of “Conversations with Darius Khondji.”

The masterclass was part of the annual celebrations hosted by professional cinema lens manufacturer Angénieux at Cannes, which pays tribute to a renowned cinematographer and recognizes an emerging talent. Khondji is the subject of this year’s tribute and will be presented with the Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography Award on Friday, while Evelin van Rei, who has several shorts to her credit, will receive the Angénieux Special Encouragement Award.

Past honorees include Agnes Godard, Bruno Delbonnel, Edward Lachmann, Christopher Doyle, Peter Suchitzky, Roger Deakins, Vilmos Zsigmond and Philippe Rousellot.