Date of Birth
Tehran, IranEdit page
Khondji has worked with a number of high-profile directors, including David Fincher, Woody Allen, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Gus Van Sant, Roman Polanski, Wong Kar-wai, Michael Haneke, Danny Boyle, Stephen Frears, Philippe Parreno, Bong Joon-o, Nicolas Winding Refn, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Jonathan Glazer, Pablo Larraín, the Safdie brothers, Alejandro G. Iñárritu and James Gray.
Later in life, he moved to the United States to study at UCLA and then majored in film at New York University and the International Center of Photography. During this period, two teachers influenced his decision to become a cinematographer: Jonas Mekas and Haig Manoogian (Martin Scorsese's film teacher).
He realized that “all I wanted to do was shoot the other students' films. I was concerned with the power of the image and much less with the story.”
After his time in the United States, Khondji returned to France in 1981 and worked as an assistant for cinematographers like Bruno Nuytten, Martin Schafer, and Pascal Marti. He also worked as a lighting director on music videos and commercials.
His second feature film was Le Tresor des Iles Chiennes (1991), a low-budget, black-and-white, post-atomic adventure film.
His work on this movie was significant enough to warrant the Cahiers du cinéma to publish one of its rare interviews with a cinematographer. It was in this film that he demonstrated an affinity for Cinemascope.
He remarked in an interview, “I think it's the most beautiful format to frame. One can become absorbed in the faces when they're framed in 'Scope.”His subsequent work on Delicatessen established his international reputation and earned him a Cesar nomination for Best Cinematography.
One of his highest-profile films was Seven which he got based on a Nike ad he shot with David Fincher and his work on Delicatessen. His work on Evita was nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography.
Khondji is married to Marianne Chemetov, a daughter of the French architect Paul Chemetov, and has three children: Marie-Louise, Josephine, and Alexandre.