'White Ribbon' ties up ASC Award

Competition categories swept by foreign-born men

Austrian Christian Berger won the American Society of Cinematographers' feature competition for "The White Ribbon" during the 24th Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on Saturday.

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The other nominees in the feature film category -- which along with "The White Ribbon" are also up for Oscars in cinematography -- are Barry Ackroyd for "The Hurt Locker," Mauro Fiore for "Avatar" and Robert Richardson for "Inglourious Basterds." "Nine," photographed by Dion Beebe, rounded out the ASC feature nominees.

Commenting on the range of looks and approaches to this year's nominated films, Berger said backstage: "It was quite good to have that contrast ... to see what is photography today in cinema -- or what will be the future."

The frontrunner in the Academy Awards race for foreign-language film, "The White Ribbon" is the second black-and-white film in the past decade to earn the ASC's feature award. Roger Deakins earned the ASC trophy in 2002 for "The Man Who Wasn't There." The Oscar that year when to Andrew Lesnie for "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Canadian Alar Kivilo was the recipient of the television movie/miniseries award for "Taking Chance," and Eagle Egilsson, born in Iceland, claimed top honors in the episodic category for the "Venice Kings" episode of "Dark Blue." This is the first time that all three ASC competition categories were awarded to foreign-born cinematographers.

Caleb Deschanel was presented the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award by his daughters, actresses Zooey and Emily Deschanel. Deschanel earned Oscar nominations for "The Right Stuff," "The Natural," "Fly Away Home," "The Patriot," and "The Passion of the Christ."

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Accepting the award, Deschanel spoke of his love for shooting film, saying, "It is not logical, it is not numbers you can add together, but it is infused with all sorts of emotion that will show up on screen after a little journey to the lab."

Also during the ceremony, Morgan Freeman received the Board of Governors Award. The ASC International Award was bestowed on the UK's Chris Menges, who won Oscars for "The Mission" and "The Killing Fields." Director of photography Michael Negrin presented the ASC Presidents Award to his father, five-time Emmy nominated cinematographer Sol Negrin. And the Career Achievement in Television Award was presented to seven-time Emmy nom John C. Flinn III. Sol Negrin's TV credits include "Kojak" and Flinn's work includes "Magnum P.I."

The ASC Richard Moore Student Heritage Awards went to graduate student Benji Bakshi of the American Film Institute, and undergrad Garrett Shannon from Loyola Marymount University. This year, the Heritage Award was dedicated to the memory of Panavision co-founder Moore.