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Willy Kurant
Born (1934-02-15) 15 February 1934 (age 81)
Liège, Belgium
Occupation Cinematographer
Years active 1954–present

Willy Kurant (born 15 February, 1934) is a Belgian cinematographer.

A second-generation cinematographer whose father had shot films for Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir, Kurant began as a documentary cameraman[1] before establishing himself as a director of photography for such filmmakers as Agnes Varda, Jean-Luc Godard, Orson Welles, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jerzy Skolimowski, Chris Marker and Maurice Pialat. Kurant also collaborated extensively with musician Serge Gainsbourg.

Kurant is a member of the French Society of Cinematographers[1] and the American Society of Cinematographers.[1]


Kurant was born in 1934 in Liège, Belgium, the son of German cinematographer Curt Courant, who had begun his career in the silent era and gone on to shoot films for Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, and Jean Renoir. Kurant lived in Liège until the age of eight, when, due to World War II, he was forced to move to the Belgian countryside with his older sister and her husband.[1] Kurant was later sent to an orphanage, where he lived until the age of 17.[1] As a teen, Kurant read issues of American Cinematographer magazine at an American Cultural Center.[1]

Though his father was a well-known figure in the field, Kurant was initially reluctant to pursue a career as a cinematographer, instead studying still photography.[2] While working at a job processing film at a research lab in France, Kurant took an evening class at a small film school;[2] it was then that he decided to pursue cinematography as a career.[2]

Kurant began his career as a cameraman in 1954, when he spent six months in the Belgian Congo as part of a documentary film crew.[2] There, he worked on ten short propaganda films produced for the Ministry of Overseas France and her Colonies, and upon returning to Belgium, Kurant worked as a news cameraman for a television station.[2] In 1957, Kurant received a scholarship to study as a trainee cameraman at Pinewood Studios. There, he worked as first assistant cameraman to English cinematographers Geoffrey Unsworth (on A Night to Remember), Harry Waxman (on Innocent Sinners) and Jack Hildyard (on The Gypsy and the Gentleman).[2]

At the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels, Kurant saw a German film crew using an Arriflex camera. This inspired Kurant to buy a camera of his own, as well as a set of lenses and a sound recorder.[2] He then worked extensively as a freelance cameraman, travelling to Vietnam and again to the Congo. In 1962, Kurant moved to France to formally study cinematography.

Kurant then began to establish himself as a cinematographer, shooting shorts for filmmakers such as Jacques Rozier and Marin Karmitz. In 1966, Kurant shot his first two features: Agnes Varda's The Creatures and Jean-Luc Godard's Masculine Feminine. Both films were shot in high-contrast black-and-white on 4X, a then-new Kodak film stock;[1] Kurant later referred to the films' distinctive look as his "signature."[1]

The next year, Kurant shot the TV movie Anna, directed by Pierre Koralnik starring Godard's ex-wife, Anna Karina. The film was co-written and scored by musician Serge Gainsbourg; this marked the first of several film collaborations between Kurant and Gainsbourg.

Around the same time, Kurant served as the cinematographer on Orson Welles' French production, The Immortal Story. Welles then hired Kurant as the cinematographer for his thriller The Deep, which spent three years in production but was never finished.[3]

In 1968, Kurant shot his first American film, The Night of the Following Day. In the 1980s, he worked on two films with director Maurice Pialat: A Nos Amours, from which Kurant was fired after two weeks of shooting,[2] and the Palme d'Or-winning Under the Sun of Satan. He also worked on Boris Szulzinger's Mama Dracula (1980).

Later in his career, Kurant shot a handful of films in the United States, including The Baby-Sitters Club and Pootie Tang. His most recent feature is Un été brûlant (2011), directed by Philippe Garrel; it marked Kurant's first work in seven years.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Kodak On Film: Willy Kurant, ASC, AFC.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Cinematographers: Willy Kurant
  3. ^ Willy Kurant: Welles DP on Immortal, Deep, Heroine

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willy_Kurant — Please support Wikipedia.
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72 news items

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:03:36 -0700

The black-and-white images (captured by the great Belgian cinematographer Willy Kurant) seem to float free of time, accompanied by the disarmingly sweet tones of Jean-Louis Aubert's music. The main character, a young actor named Louis, is based on Mr.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:34:39 -0800

From left: Larry Pine, Tony Revolori, and Owen Wilson, in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Credit Photograph courtesy Martin Scali / Fox Searchlight Pictures. There are years in which the list fills itself up to the mid-twenties or more. This year, I had to ...


Tue, 23 Sep 2014 13:37:30 -0700

Shot in widescreen black and white (on Eastman film stock, no less) by veteran cinematographer Willy Kurant (among many other films, he shot Masculin Feminin for Jean-Luc Godard), Jealousy also features a gorgeous pastoral score – primarily for piano, ...
Los Angeles Times
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:48:30 -0700

With its fragmentary scenes and the sumptuous black-and-white palette created by New Wave cinematographer Willy Kurant, "Jealousy" has a dreamy quality, its Parisian characters not rooted in time. Dreams are rarely as languid, though, or as filled with ...

New York Times

New York Times
Fri, 08 Aug 2014 06:00:12 -0700

For “Jealousy,” the high-contrast black-and-white imagery was captured by the director of photography Willy Kurant, 80, who's worked with people from Mr. Godard to Louis C.K.. Mr. Kurant described Philippe as “a very secretive man,” a sentiment shared ...

Unifrance Films

Unifrance Films
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 07:40:59 -0800

Richard Brody's selections also include a list of the top cinematographers of 2014, which features three French directors of photography: Darius Khondji (for The Immigrant), Willy Kurant (for La Jalousie), and Claire Mathon (for Stranger by the Lake ...
Los Angeles Times
Sat, 16 Aug 2014 08:01:16 -0700

Shot in stark black-and-white by cinematographer Willy Kurant, who worked on such films as Jean-Luc Godard's "Masculine-Feminine" and Louis C.K.'s "Pootie Tang," the film, even with its brief running time under 80 minutes, packs a deep emotional wallop.
The Saratogian
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:11:15 -0800

The film is a personal one for Garrel; it is said to have been inspired by a period from Garrel's childhood when his own father, an actor, left the family to live with his mistress. Shot in glorious black-and-white by famed Belgian cinematographer ...

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