Greig Fraser’s lensing of Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic Dune won the American Society of Cinematographers Award for a feature film during the 36th annual ASC Awards, which were presented during a hybrid event, both in person and live streamed from the ASC’s Hollywood Clubhouse.

Fraser, who was unable to attend the ceremony as he tested positive for COVID-19 just prior to last week’s BAFTAS, topped a field of nominees that included Bruno Delbonnel for The Tragedy of Macbeth, Dan Laustsen for Nightmare Alley, Haris Zambarloukos for Belfast and Ari Wegner for The Power of the Dog. In a prepared speech, Fraser thanked his crew and suppliers, as well as the Dune team.

This is the second time that Fraser topped the ASC feature category; he previously won the award in 2017, for Garth Davis’ Lion (for which he was also Oscar nominated). A week ago, Fraser collected a BAFTA for Dune.

Fraser, Delbonnel, Laustsen, Wegner, and West Side Story DP Janusz Kaminski are nominated for the Oscar in cinematography. In six of the last 10 years, the winner of the ASC feature competition went on to win the cinematography Oscar, including a year ago when Erik Messerschmidt won both awards for David Fincher’s Mank. This year, Messerschmidt presented the feature award to Fraser.

Power of the Dog DP Wegner is the second woman ever to be nominated for the cinematography Oscar, as well as the ASC’s feature competition. In both cases, the first was Rachel Morrison, who was Academy Award and ASC nominated in 2018 for Dee Rees’ Mudbound.

Morrison was on hand on Sunday to present the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award to Ellen Kuras, the first woman to receive this accolade. “This meant that if I was the first woman, the path was cleared for others to follow,” said Kuras of the significance of the award, adding that she was proud “to be part of a massive change, a change in culture.” Talking about the support of the ASC community, she added, “this is not about me, it’s about all of us at ASC, as a family.”

“Change is happening all around us,” she asserted in a powerful speech, noting that something that is being compromised is our safety, on and off set. … We must fight for our quality of life. The culture needs to change. Let’s continue to advocate for safety, on and off set.”

Later in the speech, she warned, “Democracy itself is in crisis. … Let us take the example of President Zelensky, who shows us what true bravery is.” She encouraged members to vote in the midterms, adding: “If we stay silent, what is the legacy we leave to our next generation?”

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The ASC Award for a half-hour series went to Snowfall‘s Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, a Black cinematographer, who accepted the honor, saying, “Representation matters a lot. Thank you to the ASC.”

Jessica Beshir won the first award of the evening, in the the documentary competition, for Faya Dayi. Pat Scola’s lensing of Pig won the Spotlight Award, which recognizes cinematography in independent, foreign or art house-type films. Winners in the episodic categories, along with Maddox-Upshaw, included Barry Jenkins’ collaborator James Laxton (Moonlight) for The Underground Railroad; Jon Joffin for Titan; and Michael Berlucchi and Marc Carter for Mythic Quest.

During the evening, cinematographer and outgoing International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600) president John Lindley was honored with the President’s Award. “There is not a working cinematographer whose life has not been impacted by John Lindley,” said co-presenter and cinematographer Amy Vincent.

Accepting the award, Lindley celebrated the artists of the ASC and said he’s proud that ASC and Local 600 are working together, to allow cinematographers to “focus on their art [as they aim to protect] the health, safety and economic security” of members.

Also during the evening, Peter Levy (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Californication24) was feted with ASC Career Achievement in Television Award. Panavision’s lens expert Dan Sasaki was the recipient of the ASC’s inaugural Curtis Clark Technical Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual who has made significant technological contributions to cinematography and is named after DP Curtis Clark (The Daughtsman’s Contract), longtime leader of ASC’s technical initiatives. Accepting the award, Sasaki thanked the cinematographers for their “inspiration” and “sharing your vision with me.”

ASC president Stephen Lighthill introduced an In Memoriam segment that remembered cinematographers including DP and former ICG president George Spiro-Dibie; and cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died last Fall after being shot during a rehearsal on the set of Rust.

Also during the evening, longtime ASC supporter and tech innovator Rob Hummel was surprised with a special award for service to the Society.

The ASC Clubhouse — the society’s home since its founding in 1919 — provided a sense of history for the event. The Clubhouse was also the site where, 36 years ago in 1986, the first ASC Award was handed out to Jordan Croenenweth for Peggy Sue Got Married. This year, due to COVID-19, an estimated 800 guests were seated under tents on the ASC grounds for dinner and the presentation, which was hosted by Debbie Allen and also live streamed.

A complete list of winners follows.

Feature Film                      

Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS for DUNE (WINNER)


Haris Zambarloukos, BSC, GSC for BELFAST