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2022 Volker Bahnemann NYU Award

Meet the recipients of the 12th annual Volker Bahnemann Award for Outstanding Cinematography: Irene Mercadal, Toby Romero, and Violet Smith.

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television has announced the finalists and recipients of the 12th annual Volker Bahnemann Award for Outstanding Cinematography. This year’s winners were Irene Mercadal in the Grad Film category and Toby Romero and Violet Smith in the Undergraduate Film category. 


We asked the recipients what it to meant to them to win this award.

Mercadal shared, “First and foremost, being considered for this prestigious award is an incredible honor for me, let alone receive it. It's something for which I'm very happy and grateful. I deeply admire the previous winners and their work, as well as the nominees, especially my classmates. Moving forward, this is an incentive for me to keep searching within my work for that evocative quality in film that is so elusive but moves us so deeply. That journey is the most exciting for me.”


Romero commented, “Winning this award is an important milestone as I start my career. I've been fortunate to work with ARRI cameras and lights for years, so to receive recognition from this highly respected pioneer in the industry is gratifying. I'm excited for what comes next as I continue to learn, create, and reflect on my work as a cinematographer.”


Smith stated, “Winning the Volker Bahnemann Award was such an honor, and honestly quite a surprise. One of my favorite and most supportive professors from NYU, Michael Carmine, secretly submitted me for this award, and to be not only nominated but to win was beyond an honor. I have admired, used, and dreamed of continuing to have the privilege to work with ARRI on various productions for as long as I have been shooting. Winning this award and meeting the team behind this incredible company was beyond anything I could have imagined. For me personally, this recognition just inspired me to keep going out onto set to shoot and reminded me that while the path ahead is tough, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of so many incredible projects and meet so many talented people along the way. I honestly just look forward to continuing to collaborate with unique artists and directors, growing as a cinematographer, and experimenting with various visual forms. 

What’s next for our winners?    

This summer Mercadal will be visiting her hometown in Chile and traveling south to document the country’s wetlands, landscapes, and inhabitants as part of an art installation. The project will combine film and linguistical data analysis to create awareness of the wetlands' key role in the climate crisis, while raising questions about how their inhabitants are included.

Romero is working full-time as a freelance cinematographer in Los Angeles. He is currently shooting commercials and a narrative short in July.

Since graduation, Smith has been working on short films and music videos. Her newest project, the short film, “Gangsta Like Me,” written and directed by Mella Lefrance, follows a 12-year-old boy growing up in Brooklyn during the '80s, who finds himself unable to tell the difference between cartoons and reality as he navigates through his daily life.

We congratulate all recipients and the other finalists: Sam Motamedi, Elo Santa Maria, and Louise Zhang.


About the Volker Bahnemann Award:     

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.