On April 27 Michael Ballhaus will receives his third German Film Award. He received his two other awards in 1973 and 1978 for his cinematography on THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT and DESPAIR respectively. This year he is receiving the “Lola”—as the award given by the Minister of State for Culture and Media since 1999 is known—in the category of lifetime achievement. The president of the German Film Academy and of this year’s lifetime achievement award jury, Iris Berben, explains the choice of this year’s winner as follows: “Michael Ballhaus is an ambassador of his great art. He was on the founding committee of the German Film Academy and has played a significant role in its development. Michael is one of the few genuinely renowned stars of his profession. And he is a star despite the fact that this intelligent, friendly and artistically so precise man is quite simply incapable of airs and graces.”
Apart from his long and successful career as a director of photography, Ballhaus has in recent years been increasingly involved in teaching film and cinematographic skills at various film schools. This aspect of his professional life already began in 1968 with a lectureship at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin (dffb). He is currently the director of the cinematographic department of the Hamburg Media School and is a visiting professor at Leuphana University in Lüneberg. He has also been director of the cinematographic department of the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF), where he worked with director Züli Aladag on the seminar project “location as a character.”
Particularly noteworthy is also Michael Ballhaus’s active engagement with environmental issues through The Future is now e.V., a climate protection initiative that he himself launched. He formulates the goal of this initiative as follows: “The future in which we want to make everything better has begun. All of us have to act—now.” In pursuing this project Ballhaus has successfully recruited a range of partners and supporters who now actively practice environmental responsibility in their daily operations. Renowned directors such as Wolfgang Petersen, Volker Schlöndorff and Fatih Akin have contributed to the initiative’s series of 60-second films designed to draw attention to the necessity of a change in global awareness.
Photo right: Michael Ballhaus, 2008 © farbfilm verleih