Director and Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young is known for his artful, poetic and humanistic visual style, as showcased in his cinematography for film and television including Ava DuVernay’s Selma and When They See US, Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story and Denis Villeneuve Arrival, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography in 2017— the first African American to be nominated in that category.
Young also directs with filmmaking collecitve The Ummah Chroma with Terence Nance and Jenn Nkiru, and under that banner recently released the powerful short music documentary KILLING IN THY NAME for Rage Against The Machine. The film is framed around the band’s iconic protest anthem “Killing in the Name”, and the directors state their “aim is for the piece to be a fire escape from the fiction known as whiteness and a spring for discovery.” In 2019, working with the first iteration of The Ummah Chroma, which was orignally conceived by Young, Nance, Nkiru, editor Marc Thomas, and musical artist and producer Kamasi Washington, he co-directed the short As Told to G/D Thyself, which premiered at Sundance. Last year, he also directed a short film as a memorial to slain rapper, Nipsey Hussle, a meditation on the cathartic nature of collective mourning in the African diaspora.
In 2016, Young made his directorial debut with the 21-minute short film Black America Again, a visual celebration of the varied black communal experience, inspired by rapper-actor Common’s 2016 studio album of the same name.
Young has shot commercials for brands such as Nike, Apple, Givenchy, the NBA, Samsung, and Ketel One. This year, he won a D&AD Graphite pencil for his cinematography for Lacoste’s emotionally stunning, world breaking campaign “The Crocodile Inside” directed by Megaforce, which followed his D&AD win last year of a Wood Pencil for the Spike Jonze- directed short “The New Normal” for MedMen. He was also the cinematographer for the 2018 branded film Corazon, directed by John Hillcoat for Montefiore Health Systems, which won both a Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Health & Wellness and a Grand Clio for Branded Entertainment.
Young’s work is both deeply connected and extending into the art world. In 2019, along with filmmaker Elissa Blount Moorhead, he created the film installation Back and Song, produced by Philadelphia Contemporary and Thomas Jefferson University. The kaleidoscopic installation reflected on the manner in which health and wellness are a part and parcel of the American Black experience from cradle to grave.
In addition to his historic Oscar nomination for Arrival, Young also won a Silver Frog at Camerimage and was also nominated for a BAFTA and an American Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Cinematography for the film. Young went on to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy in Cinematography and another Camerimage award for When They See Us, DuVernay’s Netflix series about the five young men wrongly convicted in the 1989 Central Park jogger case, dubbed the Central Park Five.