DPs of award-winning films speak at Cannes

ARRI had a strong presence at the Cannes International Film Festival again in 2013, with a hospitality tent on the beach and a buzzing 'Happy Hour' event to celebrate the company's ongoing partnership with Director's Fortnight. ARRI cameras also had a strong presence: of the 84 feature films in all of the festival selections, over 60% were shot with ARRI digital or film cameras, and well over 40% were captured with ALEXA.

Amid all the excitement, ARRI recorded video interviews with three cinematographers who had award-winning films at the festival, all of them captured with ALEXA. HELI, shot by Lorenzo Hagerman, won Best Director for Amat Escalante; OMAR, shot by Ehab Assal, won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize; and ILO ILO, shot by Benoit Soler, won the Caméra d'Or.

DP Lorenzo Hagerman at Cannes 2013

At the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival, cinematographer Lorenzo Hagerman speaks about his experiences with the ARRI ALEXA on HELI, which was awarded the Best Director prize. Despite a low budget, Hagerman opted to record in the ARRIRAW format, maximizing the flexibility of his images in post and creating a final look of exceptionally high quality.

Lorenzo Hagerman


In HELI the titular character is a young, working class Mexican man who supports his father, wife, baby son and 12-year-old sister, Estela. When Estela's 17-year-old police cadet boyfriend steals a cache of cocaine to fund their elopement, he drags Heli's extended family into a calamity that allows director Amat Escalante to reveal Mexico's endemic corruption and gangland violence in unsettling detail. 


Cinematographer Lorenzo Hagerman knew that he would be working with available light and non-professional actors on HELI; he would therefore need a camera that would be easy to use and completely reliable. "To have the support of a good camera...then you don't think about it anymore in the shooting, so you can concentrate on framing and telling a story," he says. He also persuaded the producers that, despite a low budget, recording in ARRIRAW would let them make the most of the lighting conditions and maintain significant flexibility with the night scenes in the final grade. He notes, "We were looking to shoot with lots of information and then have the final decision in postproduction."

DP Ehab Assal at Cannes 2013

At the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival, cinematographer Ehab Assal speaks about his experiences with the ARRI ALEXA and Ultra Prime lenses on OMAR, which was awarded the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize. Working to a breakneck schedule in refugee camps on the West Bank, Assal needed a camera he could rely on completely.

Ehab Assal


Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, OMAR tells the story of a fresh-faced young baker in Palestine who regularly dodges bullets to cross the separation wall and visit his secret love, Nadia. Drawn into the battle for Palestinian freedom, he soon faces painful choices about life and manhood. On the run and unsure of the loyalty of friends and family, Omar comes to realize what he really wants and cares about.


Working to a challenging schedule in refugee camps on the West Bank, cinematographer Ehab Assal had to make rapid switches from handheld to tripod operation and deal with high contrast, fast-changing available light. "I wanted a camera that could hold it together without checking on monitors or any system. We didn't even have a post place checking our material; I did not have dailies," he says. "I needed a camera to trust and I did trust the ALEXA...I felt more confident not having so many menus and picture profiles...I used the false color in the viewfinder a lot, when I was running I was sometimes shooting with it."

DP Benoit Soler at Cannes 2013

At the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival, cinematographer Benoit Soler speaks about his experiences with the ARRI ALEXA on ILO ILO, which was awarded the Caméra d’Or prize. On this low budget production Soler worked with practical lighting and had to shoot fast, but managed to create a period 35 mm look.

Benoit Soler


Director Anthony Chen's ILO ILO is set in Singapore during the 1997 Asian financial crisis and chronicles the relationship between the Lim family and their newly arrived nanny, Teresa. Like many other Filipino women, she has travelled to Singapore in search of a better life. Her presence worsens the family's already strained relationships, but her bond with Jiale, the troublesome schoolboy who is her charge, soon sees her become an important figure in the family dynamic.


A 24-day shooting schedule and a budget of only around 600,000 Euros meant that cinematographer Benoit Soler had to work fast and make use of what he had, which in Singapore was harsh, equatorial sunlight. "Basically the sun is very high up and very bright, and for me the only camera available at the moment to handle highlights nicely would be the ALEXA," he says. "In Singapore it can be very hot and humid, and cameras don't respond very well to that, but actually we never had any problem, even when we were shooting outside with the sun directly on us." In post, Soler applied scanned 35 mm film grain to the image, to help create a period look.