Meet the Oscars and Bafta contender from Cornwall

A cinematographer from Penzance is being tipped to sweep the boards at the Oscars and BAFTAs next month.

Joshua James Richards is favourite to win the best cinematography statues at both the Academy Awards in America on April 26 and the British Academy Film Awards on April 10 and 11 for his work on Nomadland.

He’s the first person from Cornwall to be nominated for an Oscar since director James Marsh, who won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Man On Wire and was nominated in 2014 for the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything.

Written, edited and directed by Chloé Zhao, the film stars Frances McDormand as a woman who loses everything in the recession and leaves home to travel as a modern-day nomad around the American West.

The film, which has yet to be released in this country, is likely to be one of the big winners on both sides of the Atlantic – it has earned six nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress and seven nominations at the BAFTAs.

It also received four nominations at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, winning Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director for Chloé Zhao, who became the second woman and the first Asian woman to win the prestigious award.

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Joshua grew up in Penzance and then studied at Bournemouth University Film and Television School for Film and creative writing, before receiving his MFA at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he studied directing. He now lives in California.

Chloé’s partner in life and film, Joshua was also responsible for the cinematography on her award-winning films The Rider and Songs My Brother Taught Me. He was nominated for a Critics Circle Award for best technical achievement for his second feature, the BAFTA-nominated God’s Own Country.

Joshua has also shot a wide range of commercials and music videos, for artists including Jay-Z, and for collaborating with directors around the world. His work has screened at festivals worldwide including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Telluride, Berlin, New Directors New Films and exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and MOMA PS1 in New York.

He won the Best Cinematography award for Nomadland at the annual Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards earlier this month. His use of natural light in film has been commended by film fans and critics across the globe.

Bait in the news

Joshua told a film website recently: “I grew up in Penzance, Cornwall, and not a lot of filmmakers come out of there. For those who don’t know that is deep, deep south west England and, it’s sort of a fishing industry that’s a little bit on its knees so that there’s not much hope of becoming a filmmaker down there, but for some reason I just got in my head that I wanted to go to NYU. And that’s what I ended up doing.”

Mark Jenkin, who won a BAFTA last year for the most successful Cornish film ever made, Bait, lives in the Penzance area.

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