21st CamerImage International Festival
Posted on Sunday November 17, 2013, 18:48 by Simon Braund in Under The Radar
The 21st Camerimage International Festival Of The Art Of Cinematography got of to a suitably cinematic start Saturday night with a hair-raising drive through the rainy streets of Bydgoswzcz, Poland, in a festival Beemer that thrillingly recalled the best bits of Ronin and The French Connection. Empire arrived unscathed at the Opera Nova, Camerimage HQ, for a gala opening night screening of John Lee Hancock’s superb Saving Mr. Banks, starring Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Following the screening, the festival was formally declared open by the Mayor of Bydgosccz, Rafal Bruski - allowing Terry Gilliam (looking like he’d just arrived from an art commune in New Mexico) to claim that his film, Zero Theorum, was the official opening film, even though it screened second. In the interim, celebrated art director Rick Carter (Jurassic Park, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Lincoln, Avatar and soon Star Wars: Episode VII) was awarded a special CamerImage Award For Production Designer With Unique Visual Sensitivity by Festival Director Marek Zydowicz. Later in the evening, Zydowicz was himself paid tribute when he was welcomed as an honourary member by the American Society Of Cinematographers, joining an elite group that includes, among other non-cinematographers, Thomas Edison.
As Rick Carter remarked from the podium last night, Camerimage audiences seem to have a passion for film that transcends mere fandom. Where else, he asked, would you see a festival logo greeted with thunderous applause the moment it appears on the screen? And as Camerimage’s stirring theme music swells (spine-tinglingly reminiscent of Michael Mann’s Last Of The Mohicans), it’s impossible not to get caught up in it. For one week, this corner of Northern Poland, home of the Museum Of Soap, becomes the most important place on earth for an entire sector of the world’s filmmaking community. Free from the taint of Hollywood hype, it’s all about the craft. Were Zac Efron to bound onto the stage of the Opera Nova, he might get a smattering of applause. When Vittoria Storaro puts in an appearance, he brings the house down. The stars of Camerimage are not twentysomething pretty boys, they beardy men in their sixties and seventies with a penchant for tweed and loosely knotted scarves, who have carved out reputations as master craftsmen over decades and who are responsible for some of the most dazzling and indelible imagery in the history of cinema. This is their show. And it’s a big one, comprising countless master classes, workshops, retrospectives, special events and, of course, competitions. This year at CamerIamge there are no less than nine of them – the Main Competition, Polish Films, Cinematographers Debuts, Directors Debuts, Student Etudes, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Music Video and, new this year, 3-D Film.
That, by any standards, is quite a line-up. Stay tuned.