I just returned from Camerimage, the best and biggest cinematography festival in the world, held in the charming city of Bydgoszcz in northern Poland.
Camerimage is truly an embarrassment of riches, you can't see everything. This will be more of a journal entry than a regular post, with my own photos (including a few images from past years), and an account of some of the events I was able to attend.
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Bydgoszcz is pronounced "bidgosh". The festival takes place in the city center, in and near the cylindrical Opera Nova theater by the Brda river.
The Camerimage award is a lifesize frog statue. In the Main Competition for feature films, the jury awarded gold, silver and bronze frogs to Polish, Mexican and French cinematographers:
- Lucasz Zal & Ryszard Lenczewski for IDA by Pawel Pawlikowski
(Lucasz shot most of the film after Richard had to leave the production for health reasons)
Ida is a stunning Polish black and white film composed in the 1.33:1 ratio.
A novice nun in the 1960s discovers that she is Jewish, and that her parents died during the war. Before taking her vows, Ida meets her dissolute aunt Wanda, and together they seek out the truth about their family's disappearance. Ida was shot with a 4by3 Alexa in ArriRaw with Zeiss Ultra Primes.
--Lucasz was kind enough to speak with me for several hours about his work on Ida, and I plan to publish video and texts about this unique film.
-- After the screening I also listened to director Pawel Pawlikowski speak about his desire to make an "anti-film".
- Lorenzo Hagerman for HELI by Amat Escalante
Heli is a powerful film that tells the love story between a young girl and police man caught in the violent Mexican drug milieu. Heli was shot with an Alexa in ArriRaw with Zeiss Master Primes.
-- I was not able to see the film, but hope to very soon! I did get a chance to speak with Lorenzo who kindly shared some of his ideas about the current flowering of Mexican cinema.
- Bruno Delbonnel for INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS by the Coen brothers.
Inside Llewyn Davis follows the misadventures of a struggling folk singer in the New York in the 1960s. The bleak, muted cinematography reinforces the film's deep sadness. Inside Llewyn Davis was shot on Kodak 5219 negative, with Arricams and Cooke S4s. Bruno and colorist Peter Doyle fashioned an intricate DI.
-- My article about this striking film will appear in the January issue of the American Cinematographer.
Camerimage gathers a unique international mix of master cinematographers, cinematography students and technical experts, creating many wonderful learning experiences. There are dozens of presentations by filmmakers and manufacturers.
Arri organized 3 workshops: on black & white with Robert Shacklady, on lighting with Reed Morano and Tom Stern, and on handheld with Sean Bobbit.
Another high point was offered by Christopher Doyle, who gave inspiring evening talks about the art of filmmaking, entitled Away With Words.
Polish cinematographer Slawomir Idziak received the Lifetime Achievement award at Camerimage. As they do every year, the Festival published a book honoring the awardee. This year's book includes a thought-provoking text by Slawomir, decrying the advent of "what you see is what you get" cinematography, accompanied by his comments on scenes from two films he made with genius director Kristoff Kieslowski: The Double Life of Veronique and Blue.
My own learning experiences included the pleasure of interviewing Sean Bobbitt about his collaboration with Steve McQueen, Slawomir Idziak about his book, John Schwartzman about anamorphic, and Lukasz Zal about lighting Ida -- as well as scholar Zbigniew Banas speaking about Kieslowski. I hope to share these encounters in the coming months.
As in the past, I organized and moderated 2 seminars for my friends at Panavision:
For Looking at Scenes, cinematographers Denis Lenoir, Phedon Papamichael, Steven Poster, John Schwartzman and Lukasz Zal presented scenes from their work and discussed their approach. The range of cinema went from Hollywood blockbuster Pearl Harbor, to American indies Someone to Watch Over Me and Walk the Line, to European films Demonlover and Ida. It was wonderful to see how much the cinematographers had in common, and to hear them share a common language. I was struck that Lukasz and Phedon have both recently shot films in black and white.
This commonality was also evident in the second seminar, Cinematography Tips, Techniques and Trends with Simon Duggan, Rachel Morrison, Declan Quinn and Piotr Sobocinski, which focused on more practical aspects of the métier like the job interview, location scouting, prepping, working with the crew on set, and the DI. I remember Rachel saying that "passion goes a long way" in the job interview.
Arri's managing director Franz Kraus gave a thoughtful talk on the future of cinema, detailing the importance of brightness and contrast, along with color, compression, frame rate and resolution. This was followed by a lengthy Q and A with cinematographers Tom Stern and Robert Shacklady (and briefly Sean Bobbitt).
During Camerimage, Panavision gave private demos demonstrating very impressive new technology that may also define the future of cinema.
My fellow blogger David Heuring moderated a spirited discussion about negative film for Kodak with Sean Bobbitt, Bruno Delbonnel, and Kodak Entertainment Division president Andrew Evenski. Bruno bemoaned having to shoot digital on his latest project with Tim Burton because there was no lab in Vancouver, and shipping film would have cost too much.
Finally I applaud my friends at Transvideo, K5600 Lighting and Angénieux for sponsoring 12 French film students to come Camerimage. This helped to offset the dangerous shortage of French cinematographers.
Camerimage is also about friendship and fun. I thank my friends at Fletcher, Arri, Panavision, the PSC, Kodak and the Festival for inviting me to their wonderful parties. And I also confess I had a great time dancing at the One Club! Below are photos I took of some of my friendly encounters at the parties and elsewhere.
I regret that many dear friends and cinematographers are missing from these photos: you know who you are. I will try to "capture you" next year!
All photos (except 1 of French students) by Benjamin B
Feel free to publish on the web
as long as you give credit & link:
photos by Benjamin B for thefilmbook.com
Camerimage web site
Camerimage 2013 pdf schedule
Marta Balaga's The Neverending Story -- report about the Kodak Seminar featuring Sean Bobbitt, Bruno Delbonnel & Andrew Evenski, with moderator David Heuring
Georges Harnack's review of Slawomir Idziak's book in Film & Digital Times
David Heuring's Vittorio Storaro and The Art of Cinematography, an account of the presentation of this book at Camerimage by my fellow blogger.
Madelyn Most's Highlights of Camerimage 2013 for Film & Digital Times
Sylwester Rozmiarek's facebook album: Camerimage 2013 / behind the scenes lives up to its title.