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Director of Photography
Ellen Kuras, ASC (Director of Photography) is the first cinematographer to win the Best Dramatic Cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival an unprecedented three times. She was first cited for her work on Ellen Bruno’s documentary Samsara (which also brought her the Eastman Kodak Best Documentary Cinematography Focus Award and the Student Academy Award). For Best Dramatic Cinematography, she was honored for her (black-and-white) work on Tom Kalin’s Swoon (which also brought her an Independent Spirit Award nomination), and for Rebecca Miller’s Angela and Personal Velocity: Three Portraits (which also brought her an Independent Spirit Award nomination).
Earlier in 2009, she was an Academy Award nominee in the Best Documentary Feature category, for The Betrayal (Nerakhoon). The film is Ms. Kuras’ directorial debut, in collaboration with the film’s subject, Thavisouk Phrasavath. She also shot and produced the feature, which was a highly personal project that she had worked on for years.
Ms. Kuras has twice been nominated for an Emmy Award, for her work on Spike Lee’s 4 Little Girls and the documentary/miniseries A Century of Women. She has collaborated several more times with Spike Lee, including on his features Summer of Sam and Bamboozled, his telefilm A Huey P. Newton Story, and his documentary Jim Brown All American. She has reteamed with Rebecca Miller on The Ballad of Jack and Rose (starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Camilla Belle), and shot segments of Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee & Cigarettes. She was reunited with Tom Kalin on 30, a half-hour narrative film commissioned by Geoffrey Beene.
She shot Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and was then a camera operator on the director’s concert film Shine a Light. She has been the cinematographer on several concert films, including Jonathan Demme’s Neil Young: Heart of Gold; Julian Schnabel’s Lou Reed’s Berlin; and Michel Gondry’s Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.
For the latter director, she was also the cinematographer on the award-winning Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind. Ms. Kuras has additionally been the director of photography on such features as Ted Demme’s Blow, Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol, and Harold Ramis’ Analyze That. Her earlier films include Steve McLean’s Postcards from America, Jill Godmilow’s Roy Cohn/Jack Smith, Douglas Keeve’s Unzipped, Richard Wenk’s Just the Ticket, and Scott Silver’s The Mod Squad.
Her television credits include the original HBO feature If These Walls Could Talk, for which she was cinematographer on the segment directed by Nancy Savoca and starring Demi Moore.
In 2006, Ms. Kuras was the recipient of a Gotham Award for her body of work. In 2003, she was given the MUSE Award from New York Women in Film & Television, and is the first cinematographer to have been so honored. Three years prior, she received the Kodak VISION Award from Los Angeles Women in Film & Television.