Cinematographer Peter Biziou — who earned an Oscar and BAFTA for Alan Parker-directed 1988 film Mississippi Burning — will receive the lifetime achievement award at the 31st EnergaCamerimage international festival of cinematography, which returns to Turun, Poland, in November.
Biziou’s credits include Peter Weir’s The Truman Show, for which he earned an additional BAFTA nom, and several films with Parker, including Bugsy Malone (shared with DP Michael Seresin) and Pink Floyd: The Wall.
His other notable credits also include Monty Python’s Life of Brian, helmed by Terry Jones; Time Bandits, directed by Terry Gilliam; Another Country, by Merek Kanievska; and In the Name of the Father, by Jim Sheridan.
Born in Wales in 1944, Biziou’s family was evacuated during WWII. His father, Leon Bijou, was a cinematographer, special effects, animation pro and an assistant director who worked with Richard Thorpe on 1952’s Ivanhoe.
Following his return to post-war London, Biziou studied at Paddington Secondary Technical School (renamed Quintin Kynaston School in 1969), where he became proficient in engineering, machining and technical drawing before entering the film business through animation. He produced a broad spectrum of animation rigs and scaled models, and learned the ropes of animation film work by assisting company cameramen with the lighting, lenses, and cameras. In that way, he climbed his way up to shoot his own animation sequences.
In the mid-’60s, Biziou decided to start working as an independent artist, primarily lighting film sets of commissioned commercials and shorts. That enabled him to work alongside renowned photographers who were taking their first steps in the film industry and allowed fledgling cinematographers to help them turn their photographic visions into moving pictures.
A burgeoning collaboration with fashion photographer Robert Freeman brought in an invitation for Biziou to be in charge of the visuals in Freeman’s fiction film debut, Secret World, starring Jacquline Bisset. Given that his debut as a cinematographer had been well-received, Biziou was commissioned for commercials, shorts and documentaries. As it enabled him to cultivate his modern approach to lighting film sets, he received more challenging job offers.