Revealed: the Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated films shot on Canon kit

A couple embrace, in a still from Oscar-nominated documentary Walk Run Cha-Cha.
For Oscar-nominated Walk Run Cha-Cha DOP Shana Hagan, there was only one choice when it came to lenses – Canon's CN-E cine primes. "I loved the beautiful bokeh and visual intimacy the CN-E primes created," she said. © Ju Sakae/ Felt Films

Canon's cinema cameras, EOS DSLRs and lenses continue to be adopted by the movie industry for their high quality and dependable design. They're also the first choice with professional filmmakers, as evidenced by the 2020 Academy Award nominees and winners.

Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated productions using Canon equipment include delightful stop-animation movie, Missing Link, a tense and independent documentary, American Factory.

• Read our newer article about the 2023 Academy Award nominees shot on Canon.

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American Factory

The winner of Best Documentary Feature, American Factory examines culture clashes in a Chinese-run car assembly plant in Ohio, USA. Filming started in February 2015, and took almost three years, mostly in hot, humid and crowded conditions. The team needed lightweight kit that would perform well in low-light situations and be able to handle the stifling environment. Their choice of cameras included a Canon EOS C100 Mark II, a Canon EOS C300 (now succeeded by the Canon EOS C300 Mark II) and a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, which they paired with Canon 24-105mm and 70-200mm lenses.

Five photographers followed different people working in the plant and, as testament to the equipment's dependability, the team ended up with over 1,200 hours of footage. American Factory is the first film made by Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions.

Missing Link

Nominated for Best Animated Feature, Laika's stop-motion movie Missing Link was created using cameras and lenses from Canon's range of DSLR kit including the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and its successor, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

The cast of Missing Link are all between 10 and 12 inches tall, and each character had to be photographed over the course of several weeks, one frame at a time. The lenses used include the Canon TS-E17mm f/4L, Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II, Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 and Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8.

All four of Laika's previous productions – including Coraline, its first feature film – have been nominated in the Best Animated Feature category but a win for Missing Link would be the studio's first Academy Award.

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For Sama

Fellow Best Documentary Feature contender, For Sama, portrays life in Aleppo, Syria through the eyes of a young mother – filmmaker Waad al-Kateab – and explores the female experience of war. The raw and emotive film, named after the filmmaker's newborn daughter, was shot over five years with a variety of cameras, including a Canon EOS 650D (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 800D).

The final year, while Aleppo was under siege, was shot entirely with a Canon EOS 7D (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 7D Mark II), with a Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM prime lens and a small zoom lens. Much of the footage was filmed covertly, especially during the four-month period in 2013 when ISIS was in the city, so the filmmakers needed small, light and nimble cameras. Discretion was essential when filming on the streets; tripods, lighting kit and microphones were seen as a luxury and often destroyed if discovered.

The Edge of Democracy

Written and directed by Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa, bold political documentary The Edge of Democracy gives an insight into Brazilian politics. The film, another contender in the Best Documentary Feature category, follows the unravelling of two presidencies, with accounts from leaders past and present. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and was filmed by Director of Photography (DOP) João Atala on a Canon EOS C300 Mark II.

Walk Run Cha-Cha

Walk Run Cha-Cha, directed by Laura Nix and nominated in the Best Documentary Short category, was shot on a Canon EOS C300 Mark II. The film tells the story of a couple, Paul and Millie Cao, who were reunited in 1980s California after the Vietnam War and rediscovered each other 40 years later on the dance floor. Laura filmed the pair over six years, capturing the studio, their teachers and their dance community.

DOP Shana Hagan said shooting Walk Run Cha-Cha with director Laura Nix was a dream job. "Our visuals on this film included handheld cinéma vérité-style shots, several slow motion sequences and even a choreographed dance performance shot with a Steadicam. We needed our camera gear to adapt to whatever situation we were shooting and the Canon EOS C300 Mark II was a perfect choice for us. We needed to work with only available light inside the very dark interior of the Lai Lai dance studio, so for those scenes we chose to shoot with a set of Canon CN-E cine primes."

Autor Kevin Carter

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