Svetlana Cvetko

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Svetlana Cvetko is a cinematographer/director and winner of the Grand Prix du Public in Films de Femmes in France. Cvetko's visual talent has been displayed in several award-winning films including the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize winner Inequality For All and the Academy Award-nominated short subject Facing Fear. She provided the cinematography for the Academy Award-winning documentary, Inside Job. Her work has been featured in American Cinematographer magazine.

Background and education[edit]

Cvetko came to the United States as an expatriate of the former Yugoslavia in the late 1980s to pursue a career in filmmaking. Originally a still photographer, Cvetko was inspired by the prolific work of Agnès Godard to become an established female cinematographer. This inspiration led her to move to the San Francisco Bay Area.[1] While attending classes at the University of California-Berkeley extension program, Cvetko met film professor Larry Clark.[1][2] Clark became Cvetko's mentor and gave her access to her first production set.


Cvetko began her career with No War, a documentary film about the conflict in Bosnia.[1][3] Directed and shot by Cvetko, No War was well received, shown in over 15 festivals around the world and winning the Grand Prix du Public in Films de Femmes in 2001.[3][4]

Cvetko's skill in documentary filmmaking continued to develop through several feature films including Miss Representation, directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and premiering at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in the documentary competition and Sundance 2013 Special Jury Prize winner Inequality For All.[4][5] She was the cinematographer for Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson. Premiering at Cannes Film Festival in 2010, Inside Job won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Red Army, Cvetko's latest documentary, was screened at 2014 Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.[5] She lent her visual talent to narrative films including (Untitled) directed by Jonathan Parker, On a Tuesday directed by David Scott Smith, and Dorme directed by Sylvia Binsfeld.[1][3][4]

Cvetko is versed in both film and digital cinematography utilizing digital most recently on the film The Architect with the use of the ARRI Alexas camera.[2] Her cinematographic skill using film can be seen in On a Tuesday, shot on Super 35mm with a Kodak Vision2 5205 250D.[1] Cvetko and director David Scott Smith created a panoramic, wide-screen 3.18 aspect ratio to shoot in the historic San Francisco City Hall. Discovered by accident while scouting locations in San Francisco City Hall, Cvetko said "It was breathtaking. The space was just asking to be seen that way."[1] This exceptional work in cinematography was also featured in In Camera magazine.[citation needed]

Critical recognition[edit]

Cvetko's cinematography has been praised. The New York Times called her work "clean wide-screen cinematography [that] provides an aesthetic polish," and Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood stated that her sharp cinematography was "perfect".[5]

Selected filmography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • No War -- Winner of 2001 Grand Prix du Public in Films de Femmes
  • Inside Job -- Winner of 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature
  • Inequality for All -- 2013 Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival
  • Facing Fear -- 2013 Academy Award-nominee for Best Documentary Short Subject


  1. ^ a b c d e f Stasukevich, Iain (July 2008). ""On a Tuesday" Exploits Panoramic Format". American Cinematographer. 98 (7): 14–17. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "OConner Helps Svetlana Cvetko Build "The Architect"". Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Filmmaker, Cast & Crew: Cinematographer". Dorme. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Wright, Steve (2011). Compositing visual effects: essentials for the aspiring artist (2nd ed.). Focal Press. p. 15.4. ISBN 113603921X. 
  5. ^ a b c "She's Beautiful When She's Angry Filmmaker Bios: Cinematographer" (PDF). International Film Circuit. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 

External links[edit]