By Ogova Ondego
Published March 20, 2014
Kenyan Director of Photography, Stan Barua, has received a Canadian Screen Awards nomination for Best Photography.
During the Nomination Gala of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television-organised 65th Canadian Screen Awards held at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto on March 3, 2014, Barua’s work in MYSTERY OF MAZO DE LA ROCHE enabled him to be nominated in the Best Photography in a Documentary Series or Programme category.
However, this is hardly the first Canadian Screen Awards nomination for Barua, a graduate of the world-renowned Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland.
“This is my third personal CSA nomination for my cinematography. The Canadian Screen Awards now combine the Geminis and the Genies – two previous Canadian television and film awards. I had previously been nominated for Best Photography in a Dramatic Programme or Series (2002), and Best Photography in a Comedy or Variety Programme or Series (2007),” Barua says. “In addition to the nominations for cinematography, some of the productions I have worked on have received nominations for other (non-cinematography) categories.”
Barua is also the recipient of the Best Cinematography Award for the fiction film, BABA’S HOUSE, and Best Cinematography Award for FORGOTTEN PLACES, a mythical story set at the Kenyan coast.
Stan Barua returned to Kenya after his studies in Poland where he teamed up with filmmakers like Albert Wandago, Billy Mutta, and Mohinder Dhillon as the founding Secretary of the pioneering Kenya film and television association, Kenya National Film Association (KNFA). He was also instrumental in setting up a new standard for film visuals.
Having already established himself as one of the best cinematographers in East Africa with good opportunities inEurope which he says he worked very hard to attain, Barua is said to have moved to Canada looking for similar opportunities; he attempted to break into an established industry with limited North American contacts.
He may be winning nominations, but Stan Barua—an accomplished classical violin player who played with the Nairobi Orchestra—is still vying for access to work which would showcase his full potential.
It is said that film producers value his top notch knowledge of DOP as well as his extensive exposure to various cultures.
Barua says he continues to be interested in pursuing more dramatic work in diverse countries worldwide.
He says he has recently “spent a lot of time on technically complex productions in the USA and Canada that require the latest Green Screen techniques.”
Being one of the most technically and aesthetically knowledgeable and experienced DOPs from Kenya, it is hoped that he will one day bring back that expertise to East Africa where camera operators are often called (or call themselves) DOPs.
But why would anyone without an inkling of the definition of DOP care?
Well, a DOP is not a Cameraman; a DOP, who usually holds a Master of Fine Arts in the craft, is in charge of the overall imagery or look of a film. The DOP is in control of the camerapeople, special effects team, and even of the lighting and rigging crew. Such a Director of Photography has an extensive knowledge of optics, light and aesthetics. Each renowned director of photography stamps his or her own visual style on the films he or she works on. One may also become a great DOP through many years of experience on film sets.
Stan Barua has worked for such globally recognised producers and broadcasters as Discovery, Canal +, HBO, Alliance Atlantis and NFB, among others.
Some of the films Barua has worked on include TIGER SPIRITS, RAISIN’ KANE, SAY NOTHING, F2: FORENSIC FACTOR, WESTERN EYES, GAME OVER, and ALIEN MYSTERIES.
Those who have followed the career of Stan Barua, a member of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers and of the International Cinematographers Guild, say he has come from far during the early days when he assisted George Lucas on set during the making of THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES that was produced by Amblin Entertainment/Lucasfilm/Paramount Television; the African episodes were filmed in Kenya and directed by Simon Wincer. But very often, the grapevine says, George Lucas would fly to Kenya and often direct some sequences himself. Besides directing Lucas would also do some of the filming himself. It is said that during this time Lucas made a big impact on the Kenyan crew as he was “very humble, considerate and friendly, though surprisingly shy and self-effacing. Yet this was the most powerful Hollywood Mogul; a quiet and very thoughtful artist,” a credible source who does not wish to be named says. “To protect his privacy, George Lucas would come to Kenya and to the set unannounced. “
Barua was back in Kenya on the second unit of THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES as a PA/AC under the Spanish DOP Miguel Icaza Solana and director Carl Schultz.