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The Locarno International Film Festival will honor the exquisite eye of Italian cinematographer Dante Spinotti at this year’s event, where it will give him its lifetime achievement award, the Pardo alla Carriera.
The 77-year-old cinematographer is best-known for his collaborations with director Michael Mann, including The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Heat (1995) and The Insider (1999). Spinotti has been twice nominated for an Oscar: for his work on The Insider and for lensing Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential (1997). He won a BAFTA for The Last of the Mohicans in 1993. In 2012, the American Society of Cinematographers gave Spinotti its lifetime achievement award.
Locarno will present Spinotti with the Pardo alla Carriera on Thursday, Aug. 12, as part of its 74th edition and will screen Heat and The Insider in his honor. Spinotti will also take part in a public Q&A on Aug. 13.
Famed as a master of light, Spinotti is a cinema pioneer and among the first Hollywood cinematographers to embrace high-definition digital cameras in his work.
After an initial start in Italian TV, Spinotti made his big-screen debut with Sergio Citti’s Il minestrone (1981). His talent was spotted by legendary late producer Dino De Laurentiis, who brought him on board to lens Manhunter (1986), the first film adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels. He would work together with Mann on four more features, helping the director shape his distinctive cold, cool visual style.
But Spinotti embraced a diverse range of genres and directorial approaches, working with the likes of Sam Raimi on neo-Western The Quick and the Dead (1995), with Garry Marshall on rom-com Frankie and Johnny (1991) and with Peyton Reed on the Marvel superhero film Ant-Man and the Wasp (1991). His art house efforts have included collaborations with Lina Wertmüller, Paul Schrader, Peter Bogdanovich, Ermanno Olmi, and Jerzy Skolimowski.
“Dante Spinotti is a master of light and a figurehead of Italian excellence: in effect, an auteur DP,” said Giona A. Nazzaro, artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, adding that his work with Mann “rewrote the aesthetic codes of contemporary noir and other genres besides, in some of the most admired U.S. films of recent decades.” Nazzaro concluded: “Celebrating Dante Spinotti means paying homage to a huge talent of cinematography, to an artist who changed our way of perceiving moving pictures on the big screen. Without Dante Spinotti’s immense contribution, the cinema would be poorer and less beautiful. To celebrate Dante Spinotti is both a privilege and a joy.”
Previous winners of Locarno’s Pardo alla Carriera award have included Claudia Cardinale, Johnnie To, Harry Belafonte, Jane Birkin and Bruno Ganz.
The 74th Locarno International Film Festival will be held Aug. 4-14.
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