Australian cinematographer Donald M. McAlpine ASC ACS is set to receive the prestigious Raymond Longford Award for his contribution to the film industry.

McAlpine, whose career spans over 40 years with more than 50 feature films, now joins previous Raymond Long Award winners including Peter Weir, Fred Schepisi, Jack Thompson, Geoffrey Rush, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell and the inaugural winner Ian Dunlop (in 1968).

Best known for his work on such films as Predator, Moulin Rouge!, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Romeo + Juliet, McAlpine is still working at age 77, most recently shooting PJ Hogan’s Mental.

He won an IF Award for Moulin Rouge!, three AFI Awards (Moulin Rouge!, Breaker Morant, My Brilliant Career), was nominated for an Oscar (Moulin Rouge!) and was nominated for two BAFTAs (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!). He was inducted into the Australian Cinematographers Society's Hall of Fame in 1997.

Now he is to accept the newly-established Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Art’s biggest award.

“I accept the Raymond Longford Award as a great personal honour. I am thrilled with the honour it implies to the art and craft of Australian cinematographers,” McAlpine said in a statement.

AFI chairman Alan Finney said McAlpine made a significant and substantial contribution to the global art of filmmaking. He added that his films “played a key role in establishing our local production credentials” both in Australia and overseas.

Cutting his teeth as an amateur photographer in country NSW, McAlpine even worked as a school teacher before joining ABC TV as a camera assistant in 1962.

Having joined the Commonwealth Film Unit/Film Australia in the late-1960s and working on some short dramas, he caught the eye of filmmaker Bruce Beresford. He was then offered work as a cinematographer on The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972).

Beresford, who also worked with McAlpine on such films as Breaker Morant and Don’s Party, said he was “a credit to the Australian film industry”.

“He is a great artist, capable of varying his style to suit the subject matter of the film. He is a delight to work with,” he said.

After being asked by Paul Mazursky to shoot 1982 film Tempest, it was all systems go for the cinematographer who then went to work on classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film Predator, Orphans, See You In The Morning, Stanley & Iris and Parenthood. In the ‘90s he added his expertise to Mrs Doubtfire, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Man Without A Face and Stepmom, among others.

Other films on his impressive CV include Anger Management and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe.

A documentary on McAlpine's career, Show Me The Magic, will screen next year on SBS. It will be directed by Cathy Henkel.

Donald M. McAlpine is to officially accept the honour at the Samsung AACTA Awards Luncheon on January 15, 2012.

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