Manaki Brothers


Bruno DELBONNEL, AFC, ASC, is the most recent member of the Manaki Club of Greats. Having previously won the Special Golden Camera 300 for Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Film at the 32nd edition of the “Manaki Brothers” Festival in 2011, he is now joining our club of the masters of cinematography, adorned with the Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement in Cinematography.

Delbonnel was born in 1957 in Nancy, France. He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne University in Paris and graduated in 1978 from ESEC (École supérieure d’études cinématographiques), the famous and highly esteemed school of cinematography in Paris.

During his early years after graduation, Delbonnel showed an affinity towards directing. In 1989, he directed a feature-length documentary film inspired by the world of the circus – THE GRAND CIRCUS. However, he has since made a career mainly as a cinematographer with an enviable oeuvre, collaborating with many notable French and international directors.

At the beginning of his career, in 1981 and 1983, he shot two short films for the screenwriter-director tandem Marc Caro – Jean-Pierre Jeunet. This experience would prove to be decisive, especially in his later collaboration with Jeunet, with whom in 1984 he shot another short film NO REST FOR BILLY BRAKKO/PAS DE REPOS POUR BILLY BRAKKO, and with whom he continued to creatively collaborate in their two most critically acclaimed works that earned Delbonnel the first two out of a total of six Oscar nominations: AMÉLIE (2002) and UN LONG DIMANCHE DE FIANÇAILLES /A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT (2005).

In 2001, before the Academy Award nomination, LE FABULEUX DESTIN D’AMÉLIE POULAIN (original title) won the Crystal Globe at the Film Festival in Karlovy Vary, which still remains to be this festival’s most significant discovery from the vast pool of French cinema to date, and a source of regret for the festival organizers at Cannes who, with this oversight, missed the chance to launch this anthological auteur film which is also considered to be among the most commercially rewarding.

What Delbonnel, aged 44 at the time, achieved with AMÉLIE is visually majestic, giving shape to the fairytale-like, ordinarily extraordinary world of Amélie.

Casting Tautou for the title role of Amélie was a big hit. Тhe actress incorporated her ample talent into the unusual nature of this quirky character, and Delbonnel transformed her with the visual playfulness and originality inherent to his expressive style. His camera draws us into her experiences with extraordinary visual energy in every frame, which is an experience in itself. AMÉLIE is also a love letter to Paris with an inspiring colour palette and a magical visual tone.

In addition to the Oscar nomination in 2002 for AMÉLIE, Delbonnel also received BAFTA and ASC nominations, as well as the Cesar Award, and also won the EFA/European Film Academy Award for Best European Cinematographer.

After achieving global fame with AMÉLIE, the tandem Delbonnel-Jeunet repeated their fruitful collaboration in their next outstanding film, the historical love drama from the First World War – A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT. Delbonnel is again at the height of his creative enthusiasm in this film, building up a nightmarish visual atmosphere, with a documentary colour gamma, depicting the range between the horrors of the war and the protagonist’s intimacy. In addition to the nominations for the Academy and the EFA Award, Delbonnel won the ASC Award and the French César for this film, too.

Delbonnel’s third Academy Award nomination came in 2010 for one of the most visually impressive films in the Harry Potter franchise, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, directed by David Yates.

In 2011, our festival awarded Bruno Delbonnel the Special Golden Camera 300 for Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Film.

The three later masterpieces in Delbonnel’s oeuvre, that earned him the most recent Academy Award nominations are: INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2014), DARKEST HOUR (2018) and THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH (2022).

Namely, after collaborating in 2006 on their short film TUILERIES (one of the stories from the omnibus PARIS, JE T’AIME), Delbonnel went on to shoot the full-length feature film INSIDE LLEWIN DAVIES for the screenwriter-director tandem – the Coen Brothers, Ethan and Joel. In that film, Delbonnel depicts the dark existential drama of the young folk singer-songwriter Llewyn Davis, with the title role played by the musician Oscar Isaac.

He then received his fifth Oscar nomination in 2018 for his creation in DARKEST HOUR, directed by Joe Wright. This historical drama earned actor Gary Oldman an Oscar for portraying Winston Churchill.

In 2021, Delbonnel once again collaborated with Joel Coen on the film THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH, for which he won the last of his 6 Academy Award nominations. Actor Denzel Washington plays the title role in this most recent adaptation of Shakespeare’s anthological tragedy, with Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth.

Delbonnel applied a documentary visual structure typical of films with historical components from different ages and periods in all three more recent Oscar-nominated films.

Over the years, Delbonnel has enriched his opus by collaborating with several other prominent directors: Peter Bogdanovich in THE CAT’S MEOW (2000, a crime drama about the murder of an actress in Hollywood 1924, which happened on millionaire Hearst’s yacht); the Russian director Alexandr Sokurov, on the film FAUST (2011, the syndrome of Goethe’s myth about Faust, a winner of the Golden Lion in Venice) and FRANCOFONIA (2014, a homage to the Parisian temple of fine art – the Louvre Museum which, with its timelessness and lasting value, defied the years of the fascist occupation; filmed as docufiction); and Tim Burton on three nearly consecutive occasions, in 2012 on his gothic horror DARK SHADOWS, then in 2013 on the related BIG EYES and in 2016 on the film MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN.

He collaborated with the Coen brothers once again in 2018 in their western comedy typical of their style – THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS, while his latest collaboration from this year is with director Wes Anderson on his most recent film, THE PHOENICIAN SCHEME (2024, in post-production), with an incredible ensemble cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Benicio Del Toro, Charlotte Gainsbourg.

In 2019, Bruno Delbonnel was appointed Head of the Cinematography Department at the world-famous Paris Film School, La Femis, to pass on his extensive professional knowledge and experience to future generations of cinematography students.

Blagoja Kunovski – Dore

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