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Cinematographer Ellen Kuras Makes History as First Woman to Win ASC Lifetime Achievement Award

The Emmy-winning cinematographer and director received the American Society of Cinematograpers (ASC) Lifetime Achievement Award ahead of the March 20 ceremony.

Ellen Kuras, Catch-22

Ellen Kuras

Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) announced the recipients of its 36th Annual Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography.

Ellen Kuras, the visionary behind “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Blow,” makes history as the first woman to receive the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award. Kuras has won two Emmys and been nominated for an Academy Award. Kuras also won an Emmy for her directorial debut film, “The Betrayal/Nerakhoon.”

A three-time winner of the award for Best Dramatic Cinematography at Sundance, Kuras has collaborated with auteurs Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Sam Mendes, Michel Gondry, Jonathan Demme, Rebecca Miller, and Jim Jarmusch, among others.

“Ellen is undeniably a trailblazer,” ASC President Stephen Lighthill said. “She has consistently brought a daring and compelling creative talent to her work as a director and cinematographer. She is known to be a passionate collaborator, strong leader and generous soul. The ASC is thrilled to be recognizing Ellen with this well-deserved award for the path she has taken and the high caliber of her artistic contributions.”

Kuras directed the second unit of HBO’s “Vinyl” and “The Night Of,” followed by “Ozark” and “Umbrella Academy” for Netflix. Kuras later directed two episodes of George Clooney’s Anonymous Content/Paramount limited series, “Catch-22.” Kuras is currently preparing to direct “Lee,” a film about model-turned-war photographer Lee Miller starring Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Josh O’Connor, Andy Samberg, Andrea Riseborough, and Marion Cotillard.

Kuras previously discussed being a female cinematographer in a mostly male industry, telling IndieWire, “I think that women have to face their fears about being competent technicians, because most of the women I’ve met in the industry have consistently been great technicians. We have to look into ourselves every single time we walk onto a set and reassure ourselves that we’re okay and that we know our jobs and that we’re as competent as the rest.”

Kuras advised, “Be confident and people will see and believe in your confidence. More importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know something.”

The ASC additionally recognized Peter Levy with the Career Achievement in Television Award, and John Lindley was honored with the President’s Ward. Panavision’s Dan Sasaki received the ASC’s inaugural Curtis Clark Technical Achievement Award, which will be given to an individual who has made significant technological contributions to the art and craft of cinematography.

The accolades will be presented March 20 at the ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood.

“We’re thrilled to be honoring our colleagues who have all made a significant impact on not only our artform, but our community as well,” Lighthill said. “Each of these recipients has made a unique contribution to cinema as leaders, storytellers and artists.”

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the art of filmmaking. Since its charter in 1919, the ASC has been committed to educating aspiring filmmakers and others about the art and craft of cinematography. For over 100 years, the ASC has published AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER magazine, the industry’s definitive source for filmmakers.

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