Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

Interview with Celine Bozon, cinematographer: The female side of the film world

Berlinale, one of the most prestige film festivals in the world, set the agenda two years ago to have a quarter of female authors in its program. The number of works in all selections of the Berlinale program reaches 300 films.

Even without having proclaimed such an agenda, this year’s edition of the “Manaki Brothers” festival is busy with female authors, especially in the competing selection. In three out of the thirteen films in the competing selection there is even a female director-cinematographer tandem: Agnieszka Holland and Jolanta Dylewska (“Spoor”), Teona Strugar Mitevska and Agnes Godard, and Godard is also a cinematographer of the film at the closing ceremony, “Let the Sunshine in”, by the female director Claire Denis. Sally Potter is the director of “The Party” (cinematographer is Alexey Rodionov), whereas in the film “Felicite” by Alain Gomis, the cinematographer is Celine Bozon. Bozon is also our interviewee.

Celine Bozon is a member of the middle generation (female) authors of the French cinematography, with about 60 feature and short films, documentaries and TV films in her portfolio. She is known for her cooperation with the French-Algerian director of Roma origin Tony Gatlif (“Exiles”, 2004, and “Transylvania”, 2006) and Serge Bozon (“La France”, 2007, “Madame Hyde”). “Felicite” by Alain Gomis is shot in Kinshasa, Congo, and follows the story of a singer, single mother, who fights for the life and health of her son…

You, along with the cinematographers Jolanta Dylewska and Agnes Godard, as well as the directors Claire Denis and Teona Stugar Mitevska, make up a good quarter of the authors in the official competing selection. Is the growth of the trend of female cinematographers in the world well felt?

Certainly! I can even say that I’m a part of the second generation of female cinematographers, and the representatives of the first generation, Agnes Godard and Caroline Champetier themselves, were my role models in cinematography. I see that the number of female cinematographers grows, there are more and more of them, and I see that daily because I teach film camera also. I can even say that there are more girls amongst the students!

Is there more empathy towards the female characters in films when there is a woman behind the camera, as it is “Felicite” and her story about the hardships in life?

From the start of the making of the film, when I and the director Gomis talked, I became very curious about the character of the main heroine, and after I read the script, I already identified myself with Felicite. Felicite was, in fact, me and this subjective way of identification with the character is very productive.

How much does the female film follow the trace of the “female work” in the world literature of the past century, the work of Marguerite Duras, Simone Beauvoir…? Is there a female film? Can the films of Claire Denis, for example, be called female films?

A very good question, I need to think a little because I don’t know if there really is a female film. Claire Denis, according to me, is very good in filming the male characters, her view of the men is very good. But, is it some sort of a female film? In fact, yes, I know, female films for me are, for example, “Ordet” by Carl Theodor Dreyer and “Abraham’s Valley” by Manoel de Oliveira…

Would you agree with the stance that the advance of technology and the liberalization in the realization of films is the condition that brought an increase in the number of female cinematographers? The new cameras are lighter, more operative…

I have already shot two films with Tony Gatlif with an analog 35mm camera of 20kg on my shoulders. My beginnings weren’t with a digital camera. I think that the increased number of female cinematographers is not only due to the progress of technology, but also to a kind of a social emancipation, the chance to get away from the traditional family circles of the