The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry

Chris Menges to Receive ASC International Award

December 3, 2009

LOS ANGELES, December 3, 2009 – Chris Menges, ASC, BSC will receive the 2010 American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) International Award. The tribute is presented annually to a cinematographer who has made significant and enduring contributions to the international art of filmmaking. The presentation will be made during the 24th Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards celebration here at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on February 27, 2010.

Menges has earned Oscars for The Killing Fields and The Mission and other nominations for Michael Collins and The Reader. The British cinematographer’s credits include Black Beauty, Walter and June, The Boxer, Dirty Pretty Things, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Notes on a Scandal, The Yellow Handkerchief, and Stop-Loss.

“Chris Menges has dedicated his career to helping to create films that tell the important stories of our times,” says ASC President Michael Goi, ASC. “He has a unique talent for creating compelling images that pull audiences into those stories.”

Menges joins an all-star cast of former recipients, including his countrymen Freddie Young, BSC, Jack Cardiff, BSC, Freddie Francis, BSC, Oswald Morris, BSC, Billy Williams, BSC, Douglas Slocombe, BSC, Gilbert Taylor, BSC and Walter Lassally, BSC. The other previous International Award recipients are Gabriel Figueroa, AMC, Henri Alekan, Raoul Coutard, Giuseppe Rotunno, ASC, AIC, Witold Sobocinski, PSC, Miroslav Ondricek, ASC, ACK, Tonino Delli Colli, AIC, Michael Ballhaus, ASC, and Donald McAlpine, ASC, ACS.

“Chris Menges has earned the admiration of his peers,” says ASC Awards Committee Chairman Richard Crudo, ASC. “He has made countless contributions to advancing the art of telling stories with moving images that touch the soul.”

Menges has blazed a non-traditional career path. He was born in Herefordshire, England, and raised in London where his father was the music director at The Old Vic Theatre. Menges began his career at the age of 17 as an assistant to his neighbor Allan Forbes, an American filmmaker who produced documentary films for the cinema.

When he was 22, Granada Television in England sent Menges to South Africa to shoot a clandestine documentary about Nelson Mandela being imprisoned and the banning of the African National Congress. During the next several years, he shot ethnographic and political documentaries in Rhodesia, Angola, the Congo, Cyprus, in the jungles of Burma, on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam, in Egypt during the 1967 war, in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots, and other places where history was happening.

“Documentaries were part of my education,” Menges says. “I also learned about the power of the sun and light and darkness.”

Menges earned his first narrative film credit for Kes in 1969 when he was 28 years old. It was the first of his 12 collaborations with director Ken Loach. He subsequently shot a series of independent films with modest budgets. Menges broadened the scope of his experience in 1979 when he spent several months as the second unit cinematographer on Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

“Working on that classic film with (cinematographer) Peter Suschitzky (ASC) and (director) Irvin Kershner was an important milestone for me,” Menges says.

Menges burst onto the global scene in 1985 when he earned an Oscar for The Killing Fields. It was his first collaboration with director Roland Joffe. They collaborated to take the audience behind the scenes during a violent civil war in Cambodia during the 1970s. There was an encore performance in 1987, when Menges earned an Oscar for The Mission, which was also directed by Joffe.

There were subsequent nominations in 1997 for Michael Collins and for The Reader in 2009. Menges recently shot London Boulevard and Route Irish which are slated for release in 2010.

The ASC was chartered in January 1919. There are more than 300 active members of ASC, and 150-plus associate members from sectors of the industry that support the art and craft of filmmaking. Membership and associate membership is by invitation based on contributions that individuals have made to advance the art of visual storytelling.