Guest of Honour: Agnès Godard

We dedicate our HOMAGE this year to the French cinematographer

In the HOMAGE, the IFFMH honours leading international figures in the film industry, most recently legendary director Claude Lelouch and Belgian cinematographer Benoît Debie. This year, the homage is dedicated to his French colleague Agnès Godard.

Festival director Sascha Keilholz says: “Agnès Godard’s camerawork renders human bodies as living landscapes, thus giving us a cinema of observation, identification and interaction. Her work cannot be defined as having a single style: at times highly stylised, as in her collaboration with Claire Denis, and at other times filmed with a handheld camera in a radical vérité style, as in ›The Dreamlife of Angels‹ (1998) by Erick Zonca, Godard’s work has always broken new ground and had a decisive influence on contemporary French cinema. But not only that: Godard’s work is always forward-looking. One of her most notable current collaborations is with director Ursula Meier, most recently on ›The Line‹ (2022), a film that also reflects the shift from analogue footage to digital images.”

Godard, born in Dun-sur-Auron, France, in 1951, attended the prestigious Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques in Paris in the 1970s. She then became an assistant camera operator in the 1980s – including for Henri Alekan, with whom Wenders shot ›The State of Things‹ in spring 1981. Godard then assisted Robby Müller on ›Paris, Texas‹ (1984) and Alekan again on ›Wings of Desire‹ (1987). Since 1990, Godard has been a cinematographer for such filmmakers as Agnès Varda, Wim Wenders, Peter Greenaway, Noémie Lvosky, Catherine Corsini, Tonie Marshall, Ursula Meier, André Téchiné, Peter Handke, Claude Berry, Emmanuele Crialese, Fabrice Gobert, Sébastien Lifschitz and Emmanuelle Bercot.

The working relationship between Godard and director Claire Denis proved to be highly productive: the serial killer film ›I Can’t Sleep‹ (1994) and the sibling drama ›Nénette and Boni‹ (1996), both steeped in bold, contrasting blues and reds, were the first of nine films they’ve made together. Godard was awarded the César for best cinematography for ›Beau travail‹ (1999), an internationally acclaimed portrait of a foreign legionnaire, which was recently named one of the ten best films of all time by the film magazine Sight & Sound. This was followed by the vampire film ›Trouble Every Day‹ (2001) and the poetically romantic dramas ›Friday Night‹ (2002), ›The Intruder‹ (2004) and ›35 Shots of Rum‹ (2008) made in collaboration with Denis.

Godard made some of her most significant films with homosexual directors. These include more recent films such as ›Salvation Army‹ (2013) by the openly gay Moroccan director Abdellah Taïa, who lives in exile in Paris. The theme of the human body, which is central to her work, takes on a very special meaning here.

For the HOMAGE, the 72nd IFFMH has selected three works from Godard’s oeuvre and shows with ›Beau travail‹ (1999) by Claire Denis, ›L’arrière pays‹ (1998) by Jacques Nolot and ›Wild Side‹ (2004) by Sébastien Lifshitz how diverse and yet unmistakable her style is.