2021 Volker Bahnemann NYU Awards

Meet the recipients of the 11th annual Volker Bahnemann Award for Outstanding Cinematography: Mélanie Akoka and Sarah Greenbaum  

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television has announced the finalists and recipients of the 11th annual Volker Bahnemann Award for Outstanding Cinematography. This year’s winners were Mélanie Akoka in the Grad Film category and Sarah Greenbaum in the Undergraduate Film & Television category. 

Both recipients shared what it to meant to them to win this award.

Akoka cited, “I’m incredibly honored and grateful to have received the Volker Bahnemann Award for Outstanding Cinematography. When I think of the people who’ve received it before me, I see a lot of talent and boldness in their choices. But most importantly, I see a lot of heart.”    On her experience with ARRI Rental, she said, “I’ve worked with ARRI a lot times and have to say that as a young cinematographer working in a different country, they have always been understanding, helpful, and very supportive. To have an award in that name is huge and I’m excited to continue the collaboration through more projects.”  

Greenbaum expressed, “Receiving recognition as an emerging cinematographer is such an honor, especially in this year which has been so challenging for our work. Filmmaking is fundamentally collaborative: my work would not exist without the brilliant efforts of my colleagues. To be noted for my role in this symbiotic process makes me feel embraced by a greater community. ARRI is such a major part of that community: its contributions to film’s history and to its present are immense. Being honored in the name of the man who founded ARRI’s presence in the US, Volker Bahnemann, is both humbling and empowering.” 

What’s next for our winners?    

During the pandemic, Akoka flew back to Italy to help with the postproduction of a friend’s film. Working in post was originally where her passion for filmmaking and cinematography began: “I take a lot of my shooting cues from all the lessons I’ve learned in editing,” she said. As more projects are now setting up to shoot, Akoka is eager to start up again and to try her hand at directing.  

Greenbaum graduates from NYU in the fall and plans on releasing her documentary short in June 2022. She is currently shooting an adaption of a Tennessee Williams play. 

We congratulate both recipients and the other nominees: Gianna Badiali and Mauro Fernandez. 

About the Volker Bahnemann Awards:    

The Volker Bahnemann Award for Outstanding Cinematography was established in 2010 to honor Bahnemann’s 48 years at ARRI. It was conceived to inspire future generations of cinematographers and empower talented students to realize their artistic potential through production grants. Bahnemann served 32 years as CEO and President of ARRI Inc. and ARRI CSC, contributing to the development and refinement of many significant ARRI technologies, among them the ALEXA, ALEXA Mini, ARRIFLEX 35 III, ARRIFLEX 765, ARRIFLEX 435, and ARRIFLEX 235 cameras, as well as ARRI/Zeiss High Speed and Variable Prime lenses. Recipients are selected by the faculty based upon rigorous criteria and the leitmotif of Bahnemann’s legacy: excellence in cinematography.