The American Society of Cinematographers has turned a new leaf in its 32-year history by nominating a woman for the first time in the feature film category.
Mudbound cinematographer Rachel Morrison has been nominated for the society’s top award for Outstanding Achievement alongside Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049, Bruno Delbonnel for Darkest Hour, Hoyte Van Hoytema for Dunkirk and Dan Laustsen for The Shape of Water.
Mudbound, based on the Hillary Jordan play of the same name, revolves around a pair of white and black World War II veterans dealing with the trauma of war and the reality of racism in rural Mississippi. The film has been directed by Bee Rees and stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J Bilge, Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell.
The society has nominated women in the television categories in the past, but this is the first time a woman has been nominated for her work in film.
Morrison has already won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematographer for Mudbound. Her other films include Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station (2013) and his upcoming superhero film Black Panther, as well as Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope (2015).
No woman has been nominated for an Academy Award in cinematography. Although editing has seen the inclusion and success of numerous women (from Dede Allen to Anne V Coates), cinematography largely remains a male preserve.
French cinematographer Maryse Alberti has worked extensively in both documentaries and fiction films and became the first woman of her profession to be on the cover of American Cinematographer magazine for her work on Todd Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine (1998). Her credits include Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb (1994), Todd Solondz’s Happiness (1998), Richard Linklater’s Tape (2001), Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) and Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler (2008).
Reed Morano, the youngest ever member of the American Society of Cinematographers at the time of her induction in 2013, has worked on the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning Frozen River (2008). Her credits include films and television series such as the beat generation-themed Kill Your Darlings, the Martin Scorsese-created HBO series Vinyl, and the acclaimed dystopian series The Handmaid’s Tale.
Sandy Sissel has worked as a cinematographer since 1979 across films, television shows and documentaries. She worked on Mira Nair’s Camera d’Or winning Salaam Bombay! (1988) and has been part of the crew for films such as Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003).
Back in India, female professionals created their own society, the Indian Women Cinematographers’ Collective, in 2017 to promote their work and support each other.
It was founded by Fowzia Fathima, who has been working in film and television for almost two decades, having shot films like Revathy’s Mitr: My Friend (2002).
Priya Seth shot the 2016 blockbuster Airlift, directed by Raja Krishna Menon. She has also worked with Menon on his Barah Aana (2009) and Chef (2017). Her contemporaries include Savita Singh, who has shot Hawaizaada (2015), Neha Parti Matiyan, who has worked on Waiting (2015) and Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017), and Keiko Nakahara, who has lensed Mary Kom (2014) and Noor (2017).