Staying true to the story

CANNES PROFILE. Charlotte Bruus Christensen received the Cannes Film Festival's technical achievement award for her cinematography on "The Hunt". Meet the talented cinematographer who values honesty, minimalism and reality in her work.

Charlotte Bruus
Charlotte Bruus Christensen on the set of "The Hunt". Photo: Per Arnesen

"The cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen is ravishingly good."
"Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s frames are fixed and lustrous".
"The elegantly framed widescreen compositions of cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen maintain a certain detachment in the establishing action, bearing witness to the awful events with distressing clarity."

"My task was to visualise the atmosphere in the room. It's very honest cinematography that doesn't draw attention to itself."

There was no shortage of praise for "The Hunt"'s director of cinematography Charlotte Bruus Christensen from the critics in The Guardian, Screen International and The Hollywood Reporter, respectively. Yet the 34-year-old cinematographer was rather surprised to win the technical prize Prix Vulcain de l'Artiste Technicien at the Cannes Film Festival as the first Dane ever. She received the joyful news at a private Cannes celebration at Thomas Vinterberg's house in Denmark Sunday night.

"I hadn't given it any thoughts at all. We were all preoccupied with the film's and Mads Mikkelsen's prospects of winning," she says Charlotte Bruus Christensen.

"I was surprised because my cinematography in 'The Hunt' is very minimalistic. The camera doesn't attract attention, but serves the story. My guess is that the jury found the cinematography accurate, and noticed exactly that they didn't notice it."

Shared vision

Charlotte Bruus Christensen graduated from the National Film and Television School in England in 2004. She worked on a series of shorts in England and also directed her own awardwinning short film "Between Us" along with her husband and fellow graduate, Stefan Mørk. Director Thomas Vinterberg saw this – and the rest of her showreel on her website – and hired her for "Submarino" (2010) which was her first feature film. The pair had a good working relationship which they resumed with "The Hunt".

"It was exciting to continue the cooperation and see what can come out of knowing each other. This time we didn't need to verbalize everything, we simply understood one another. We have a very similar taste in relation to the camera's role. Our shared vision was to create opportunities and freedom during the shooting, and my task was to visualise the atmosphere in the room. It's very honest cinematography that doesn't draw attention to itself - although we've made room for visual references to "The Deer Hunter" and "Fanny and Alexander".

Slices of real life

Besides working with Vinterberg, who "can bring out the best in people," Bruus Christensen was attracted to the script.

"For me, 'The Hunt' portrays a man, a village and a reality that the audience can identify with. That is what I love to film: Reality. It doesn't have to be social realism or documentary, but convey the feeling that this actually takes place. I like to stay minimalistic and at the same time go in depth with a character and open the audience's eyes for all the details they deal with in their everyday lives. Images can do that."

Musical eye for movements

The honesty towards the story is a characteristic that documentary director Pernille Rose Grønkjær recognise. She has worked with Bruus Christensen on "The House inside Her" (2011).

"Charlotte Bruus Christensen is extremely ambitious and talented. She has the ability to turn tiny ideas into something unique and has a marvelous eye for movement. Her way of shooting is very musical. That's not something that can be taught. Her style is very narrative. She devotes herself to understanding the film's universe, which is essential. Working on "The House inside Her," she was really engaged in creating the story. She has a knack for choosing projects she cares about, and she is faithful to the stories she tells," says Pernille Rose Grønkjær.

Bruus Christensen's next work can be seen in Jonas Elmer's upcoming improvisational multi-plot drama "IRL", about four main characters searching for love online. Moreover, Bruus Christensen is reading plenty of screenplays now that she is on maternity leave. She recently gave birth and was eight months pregnant when she shot "The Hunt".

"That I was able to do that goes to show the fantastic team spirit on the set. I didn't lift the camera once. This award really goes out to the entire crew," says Charlotte Bruus Christensen.