The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Return to Table of Contents January 2016 Return to Table of Contents
ASC Theatrical Nominees
ASC Close-Up
President's Desk

Camerimage deserves praise and encouragement from everyone associated with motion pictures.

Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and continually employed 2016!

Speaking of being happy and healthy, American Cinematographer’s lead time has delayed my reporting on November’s Camerimage International Film Festival, which was held in the delightful city of Bydgoszcz, Poland. Nonetheless, the interval hasn’t dulled my enthusiasm for an event that has become the world’s premier celebration of who we are and what we do as cinematographers. 2015 marked the 23rd consecutive gathering; it also presented my first opportunity to attend. Like each previous one, this year’s festival brought together cinematographers, fans and supporters from every corner of the world. As the first and most prestigious offering of its kind, Camerimage deserves great praise and encouragement from everyone associated with motion pictures.

The idea for Camerimage originated in 1992 with festival director — and now ASC honorary member — Marek Zydowicz. His reasoning was that cinematographers needed a forum through which to highlight their contributions to world cinema — and those contributions alone. Believe me, he has done a sensational job. The explosive growth in attendance and recognition over the years — 2015 saw more than 500 cinematographers and some 5,000 others in attendance — is proof enough of his great achievement. Along with his top lieutenants, Kazik Suwala and Marek Zebrowski, Zydowicz warrants high praise for a job well done. Their effort is akin to pulling off a second invasion of the beaches at Normandy.

In addition to the requisite whirl of seminars, roundtable discussions, and master classes that are taught by some of the profession’s most elite practitioners, an endless number of screenings showcased the best of the best. Using an unconventional yet wholly correct approach, distinguished panels of cinematographers judged the films in competition purely upon their visual merits. According to Zydowicz, by structuring Camerimage in this fashion, he hoped to not only introduce new talents to the world, but also refine and expand the scope of our art by dissecting it in fresh, ever more passionate ways. After seeing just a portion of the work, it’s clear that he has exceeded his initial expectations.

Camerimage hands out a huge variety of honors to students, educators, actors, directors and other industry figures who have demonstrated a particular facility or appreciation for cinematography. It also draws attention to the collaborative nature of our work by bestowing the unique Duo Award. This honor is reserved for cinematographer-director teams that have shown a “special sensitivity” to the image. Past winners have included some of the greatest combos in history. For a complete listing of winners and honorees, I refer you to the official festival website. You will be astonished!

But I would be remiss if I didn’t single out the granddaddy of them all: the Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award. There’s not much I can add that will make it seem a bigger deal than it already is. Just consider, if you will, a partial list of previous awardees: Sven Nykvist, ASC; Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC; Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC; Laszlo Kovacs, ASC; Owen Roizman, ASC; Freddie Francis, BSC; William A. Fraker, ASC, BSC; Witold Sobocinski, PSC; Haskell Wexler, ASC; Conrad L. Hall, ASC; and Caleb Deschanel, ASC. This year, Chris Menges, ASC, BSC, took the prize; I can tell you, he deserves that much and more.

And did I mention the nightly string of parties that redefine the meaning of fun? If you’re a cinematographer, you haven’t lived until you’ve been absorbed into the generous bosom of so many people who truly appreciate you and what you do. I’m not exaggerating when I compare the feeling to something one of The Beatles might have experienced circa 1964.

If you ever have an opportunity to attend, I cannot urge you strongly enough to do so. Poland is a beautiful country and home to some of the warmest, most welcoming people on earth. No one else in the industry celebrates cinematographers in as significant a way. Thanks to Marek and his crew for providing a thriving platform for just such celebration. We all should salute them for it!


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