Pierre Angénieux Tribute
ANGÉNIEUX CELEBRATES THE CAREER OF BARRY ACKROYD – PIERRE ANGÉNIEUX TRIBUTE LAUREATE 2023
Join us as we celebrate the world-renowned master of cinematic craft, Barry Ackroyd, BSC, at the tenth annual Pierre Angénieux Tribute on Friday, May 26, at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.
For over three decades, Ackroyd has been bringing his unique style and vision to some of the most acclaimed films in cinema. From Ken Loach’s dramas to Kathryn Bigelow’s gripping thrillers, his cinematography is as breathtaking as it is remarkable. Through this tribute, we will lift a lens to Ackroyd’s enormous body of work and explore the art of his storytelling through light and shadow. With four collaborations with Peter Greengrass under his belt and multiple awards and nominations, including a BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography for The Hurt Locker (2008), let us give deserved recognition for Barry Ackroyd’s immense contributions to cinematography throughout his career.
Barry Ackroyd was born in 1954 in Oldham, an industrial town in northern England, where he grew up. He says his life changed when he saw Andrzej Wajda’s film Kanal (about the Warsaw uprising) on television in 1956. He recalls:
"It just opened up my mind. It's like falling in love. As an 11 or 12-year-old, your heart starts racing."
As a teenager, he watched Ken Loach’s Kes (1969) on its original release day and recognized its characters as kindred spirits. He identified with the children in the film, and it left a long-lasting impression. Twenty years later, he was to meet Ken Loach and become his cinematographer for twelve of his films, first by shooting some of his documentaries, then by collaborating in what would be Ackroyd’s first fiction feature film, Riff-Raff (1991). The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Ackroyd the ‘Best Cinematographer’ award at the European Film Awards. Their fruitful creative relationship was also honored with an exceptional ‘Best Duo’ award at the 2002 Camerimage Film Festival.
Encouraged by his art teacher, Ackroyd initially intended to become a sculptor. However, while studying Fine Arts at Portsmouth Polytechnic, he discovered the 16mm film, which made him veer toward the art of the moving image.
He collaborated twice with the writer-director pairing of Jimmy McGovern and Charles McDougall on the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster. The 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in Northern Ireland drew the attention of Paul Greengrass to hire him on United 93. For Greengrass, Ackroyd met the challenge of filming a 20-minute large-scale action scene in almost pitch darkness. Their collaboration then continued with Green Zone (2010), Captain Phillips (2013), and Jason Bourne (2016).
The near-simultaneous release of United 93 and The Wind that Shakes the Barley brought Ackroyd to Kathryn Bigelow’s attention. They collaborated for the first time on The Hurt Locker in 2008, then on The Miraculous Year in 2011, and on Detroit in 2017.
Ackroyd’s long career has allowed him to photograph many big-screen stars. From Nicole Kidman (Bombshell by Jay Roach, 2019) to Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips by Paul Greengrass, 2013)— you name the actor, and Ackroyd has likely worked with them. He has a unique bond with Charlize Theron, whom he has filmed five times in Battle in Seattle by Stuart Townsend (2007); Dark Places by Gilles Paquet-Brenner (2015); The Last Face by Sean Penn (2016); Bombshell by Jay Roach (2019); and The Old Guard by Gina Prince-Bythewood (2020).
Ackroyd’s work has spanned decades and shaped the cinematic landscape, making him one of the indisputable masters of cinematography. As we witness this living legend recognized with the prestigious Pierre Angénieux Tribute, it’s a powerful reminder that it takes true passion and mastery to bring movie magic to life.
Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of Barry Ackroyd.