National Competition for Women Directors of Photography

The stated aim of the National Competition for Women Directors of Photography – an award unique anywhere in the world – is to focus attention on the camera work of women. This next-generation award is conferred for best cinematography in the two fields of feature film and documentary film. Eligible are graduation pieces or films made within the first two years after graduation. The prize, awarded since 2001, honours camera work from young female directors of photography and aims to support these women in their future career. The percentage of women working in this field in Germany is below 10%. The wellknown, two-time winner of the German Camera Award and professor at the Cologne Academy of Media Arts, Sophie Maintigneux, has played a major role in supporting this next-generation prize.

Forming this year’s jury alongside her are cinematographers Bella Halben and Christiane Schmidt (winner of the Award for Women Directors of Photography in 2014 for her documentary film The Forest Is Like the Mountains). From 37 nominated entries, they have selected two winners.

The prize for best director of photography in a documentary film (€2,500 in prize money) goes to Katharina Diessner for the film Arlette – Mut ist ein Muskel (Director: Florian Hoffmann).

The prize for best director of photography in a feature film (€2,500 in prize money) goes to Julia Hönemann for the film Porn Punk Poetry (Director: Maurice Hübner).

2022: Roxana Reiss Fence, Constanze Schmitt Mayor, Shepherd, Widow, Dragon
2020: Sabine Panossian Off Season, Doro Götz Lost in Face
2018: Paola Calvo Violently Happy, Marie Zahir Wie ich mich verlor
2016: Julia Hönemann Porn Punk Poetry, Katharina Diessner Arlette – Mut ist ein Muskel
2014: Christiane Schmidt The Forest is Like the Mountains, Bine Jankowski Rebecca
2012: Julia Daschner Bergig, Eva Katharina Bühler Der weiße Schatz und die Salzarbeiter von Caquena
2011: Eva Maschke Frauenzimmer, Hanne Klaas Ole
2009: Marlen Schlawin Badetag, Susanne Kurz 1,2,3, Anne Misselwitz Der Die Das
2007: Ute Freund Du hast gesagt, dass du mich liebst
2005: Bernadette Paassen In den Schubladen
2003: Janne Busse Klassenfahrt
2001: Jutta Pohlmann England


Bella Halben

Bella Halben, after her training as an advertising photographer she worked as an assistant camerawoman, then as an operator for different DoPs. Since 2000 she works for movie productions. Among others she did set-photography for Nicolette Krebitz’ films Jeans and Das Herz ist ein dunkler Wald as well as for Hierankl (nominated for the German Camera Award), Winterreise (Director: Hans Steinbichler), Im Winter ein Jahr (Director: Caroline Link) and the Deutschland 09 episode Fraktur by Hans Steinbichler. Together with Tom Tykwer, she supervised the workshop ›One fine Day‹ for students of cinematography in East Africa.

Sophie Maintigneux

Sophie Maintigneux has been active as a freelance cinematographer since 1984. She has worked with directors such as Eric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard, Michael Klier, Jan Schütte and Helga Reidemeister, and she has been director of photography on more than seventy fiction films and documentaries and has received numerous awards, including the German Camera Award for the documentary Ladies and Gentlemen over 65 and for Die dünnen Mädchen. In 2017, she received the The WIFTS Cinematographer Award. Her most recent works are the feature film Mario (directed by Marcel Gisler) and the documentary film outside directed by Johanna Sunder-Plassmann and Tama Tobias-Macht). Since 2011, she is Professor of Cinematography at the Cologne Academy of Media Arts.

Christiane Schmidt

Christiane Schmidt, 2014 prize winner for the documentary film The Forest Is Like the Mountains (Director: Christiane Schmidt and Didier Guillain), her graduate film at the University of Television and Film in Munich. Born 1978 in Lüneburg, she studied political science and art history at Oldenburg University. In 2013, she completed her studies in documentary film and television journalism, with a focus on cinematography, at the University of Television and Film in Munich. Christiane Schmidt lives in Berlin.

Arlette – Mut ist ein Muskel

Katharina Diessner (DoP)


Arlette is a 15-year-old girl from the Central African Republic all too familiar with the horrors of war. A support […]

Porn Punk Poetry

Julia Hönemann (DoP)

Feature Film

Damon is 27 years old, tattooed, sports a Mohawk haircut and works as a prostitute. Actually, at his age, he […]