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Alfredo Altamirano

Graduated from the class of 2005 at CinéCréatis, Alfredo is now a recognized director of photography and has worked on numerous films including “This is not Berlin”, which was part of the official Sundance Festival selection, “Océan”, which was short-listed for the Critics’ Week at Cannes, “Marussia”, which was selected for the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival and “El Guri”, which was selected for the 65th Berlin International Film Fes...

  • métier Chef opérateur
  • promotion 2005

Interview with Alfredo Altamirano, director of photography

Can you describe your career path after your graduation from CinéCréatis?

portrait d'Alfredo Lopez AltamiranoPortrait of Alfredo Lopez Altamirano

My career path is not classical. Usually people start as interns, then second camera assistant, then first camera assistant, then camera operator, then director of photography.

On all the projects I have done at the school, I have always been the director of photography: at the end of my training, I had enough projects to show to recruiters!
Then I went to Paris but, because I didn’t want to risk getting into trouble in working life, I enrolled at the University of Paris 3 in Cinema, which gave me the opportunity to keep my student status and to start working at the same time.

I made short films in 16mm and 35mm film, which gave me more and more experience in film, short films and music videos. It was a bit of a strange path, but it gave me the opportunity to choose my projects.

Can you tell me about some of the achievements that have left their mark on your career?

My first experience on a long feature, I was 25 years old, I was the director of photography on “Graba”, an Argentine film. So I went to Argentina and this film has been screened in a lot of good festivals including the Mar Del Plata Festival, the most important in South America.

MarussiaMarussia, released in 2013 by the director Eva Pervolovici

It was pretty great and it allowed me to come back to Paris and shoot my first French feature, “Marussia”, selected at the Berlin Festival.

Then I went back to Argentina to shoot a film, then I made a lot of shorts, and festivals, including Cannes twice for the Critics’ Week and the Directors’ Fortnight.

You have had a particular experience regarding your status in France: can you tell us more about it?

I have experienced a small problem with my documents, now I’m French.

But at the time I didn’t have the citizenship, I was Mexican and I wasn’t allowed to work abroad, I had to stay in France most of the year to be able to keep my residence permit. I was in a somewhat precarious situation.

One day I received a letter, I had thirty days to leave the country! It was a bit hard, but it made me get involved with the people I had worked with in the film industry. They helped me to write a letter of appeal.

Luckily, I met a lawyer from a French film production I had worked on, and the few people I had worked with wrote me letters, including : Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, Agnès Varda, Caroline Champetier of the AFC, Cédric Klapisch, it was an injustice, and after a while I found myself with a list of personalities who helped and supported me, Vincent Cassel, Karine Viard, Romain Gavras…

So there was a petition that was made on the internet that reached 11,000 signatures! Anne Hildago wrote me a letter, I went to the Senate and after all that I got my residence permit and one year later I got my nationality!

What happened after that?

Caroline Champetier of the AFC ( French Association of Cinematographic Directors of Photography) had advised me to work in advertising to learn how to master a little bit of everything. I listened to her and I did a lot of advertising for about two years.

Then I shot two feature films in Mexico, including “This is not Berlin”, selected at Sundance, and the last film I made in Mexico was in Cannes Festival’s Work in Progress.
It’s not bad, I’m very lucky with the films I work on, I have this great chance to be able to choose the films I work on and the projects that come to me are cool!

What are your projects today?

Now, I would like to work in the United States, and next year, I’m going to Mexico for a year. Here’s my very atypical career path!