Camerimage 2021 Closes in Triumphant Ceremony 

Despite Covid-19 concerns, the annual event held in Torun, Poland, wrapped with exuberance while honoring excellence.

Daniel Eagan

Despite Covid-19 concerns, the annual event held in Torun, Poland, wrapped with exuberance while honoring excellence.

Event photos by Pawel Skraba, Witek Szydłowski, Filip Tuchowski, Olek Urbanski and Krzysztof Wesołowski 

The festival's coveted Golden Frog awards.

A story of heartbreak and recovery, the drama C'mon C'mon won the Golden Frog at the 29th EnergaCamerimage International Film Festival. Director of photography Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC — shooting in Budapest — spoke via video. He called Camerimage "one of the best festivals in the world" before thanking director Mike Mills and the crew of C'mon C'mon. Earlier in the ceremony, C'mon C'mon also won the Audience Award.

Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC was awarded the Silver Frog for The Tragedy of Macbeth. As he was working with Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC on Alfonso Cuarón's new film, Delbonnel also sent thanks on video. "I've been blessed working with Joel Coen," he said. "I've been blessed having the crew I had."

Dune duo Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS and Denis Villeneuve.

The Bronze Frog was presented to Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS for the atmospheric sci-fit epic Dune. "This festival has always been a highlight for me," he began. "I want to thank the other cinematographers who collaborated with me on this and gave very graciously of their time."

Turning to his Dune director Denis Villeneuve, who earlier won the festival's "Special Award for Outstanding Director," Fraser said, "Merci beaucoup."

Jost Vacano, ASC accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award on stage.

Jost Vacano, ASC — winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award — enthralled the audience with his account of securing authorship rights to his Oscar-nominated World War II classic Das Boot. "I've given part of my life to filmmaking and part of my life to the politics of authorship," he said. "This award belongs to both sides of my life."

Presenter Xavier Pérez Grobet, ASC and Vacano.

ASC first vice-president Amy Vincent announced the winner of the Polish Film competition, Operation Hyacinth, a story about homosexual persecution in Warsaw in the 1980s. Winning cinematographer Piotr Sobociński Jr. spoke eloquently about how the movie's themes are still relevant today. His grandfather, Witold Sobociński, won the Lifetime Achievement Award at Camerimage in 2018.

Amy Vincent, ASC presents to Piotr Sobociński Jr.

After the final award, Joe Wright, who presented the feature competition awards, introduced Elen Lotman, ESC. In a statement approved by the feature jury, she called for a policy of affirmative action to represent the diversity of cinematographers everywhere. She noted that in an age of instant global communication, we can no longer say, "This is not my problem."

Kazik Suwala, director of the European Film Center, opened the ceremonies. Earlier, he spoke about the difficulties of staging an in-person festival during a shifting pandemic. "Many factors were against us," he explained, "especially when we reached the end of October and a new Covid wave was growing. But we managed. We showed 231 films, distributed, I think, almost 2,800 entry cards. We're happy with our safety protocols. Giving entry cards only to vaccinated people was a good decision."

Festival director Marek Żydowicz and his staff took to the stage for a well-deserved round of applause.

Before the ceremony, Greig Fraser spoke about his attachment to Camerimage. "Ever since I was a young filmmaker, I always looked at this festival as something pure," he said. "It was not necessarily celebrating cinematographers, Although celebrating cinematographers was its centerpiece, it was also celebrating the craft of filmmaking.

Fraser with director Colin Tilley, honored at the fest for his outstanding achievement in music videos.

"To be here now, to be able to introduce Dune, to do a Q&A with Denis, to be one of the nominees is a massive, massive deal. And to speak to students who are as passionate as I was 20 years ago. I know a lot more than I did back then, and it's nice to be able to pass that on to a whole new generation of filmmakers."

Attendee and panel moderator Lawrence Sher, ASC was also enthusiastic about meeting and talking to students. "I love those conversations that go to 5:00 a.m.," he said. "That's part of the inspiration of being here. It's not just seeing great movies, it's also talking to students until the wee hours."

Like many other attendees, Sher saw this year's Camerimage as a step toward a return to normality. "Not only are we getting back into theaters and watching our colleagues' films, we're doing it as a collective," he said. "It's like the best thing: get out of Covid, with Camerimage. The first chance for us to all be together, which we haven't done it in more than two years, and to do it here is even more special. It's been life-affirming for everyone who's been here. I'm excited for next year."

Elen Lotman, ESC adresses the audience.
Elen Lotman, ESC adresses the audience.
Competitive-Category Winners:

Golden Frog: C'mon C'mon
DoP - Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC
Dir. - Mike Mills

Silver Frog: The Tragedy of Macbeth
DoP - Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC
Dir. - Joel Coen

Bronze Frog: Dune
DoP - Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS
Dir. - Denis Villeneuve

From left, ASC members Linus Sandgren and Ed Lachman with No Time to Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga. A screening of Sandgren and Fukunaga's 007 feature closed the festival. (Photo by the author)

The International Critics Prize to the director of the best film in the Main Competition – under specific consideration of its cinematography: Animals
DoP - Frank van den Eeden
Dir. - Nabil Ben Yadir

Best Polish Film: Operation Hyacinth
DoP - Piotr Sobociński Jr.
Dir. - Piotr Domalewski

Laszlo Kovacs Student Award - Golden Tadpole – The Howling
DoP - Max Bugajak
Dir. - Bartosz Brzeziński
School - Warsaw Film School

Silver Tadpole: Tala'vision
DoP - Philip Henze
Dir. - Murad Abu Eisheh
School - Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg 

Bronze Tadpole: Cold Blow Lane
DoP - Christopher Behrman
Dir. - Luca Homolka
School - Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg 

Cinematographers Elen Lotman, ASC and Bojana Andric SAS. (Photo by the author)

Golden Frog — Best Feature Documentary: My Voice Will Be With You
DoP - Tristan Galand
Dir. - Bruno Tracq

Golden Frog — Best Short Documentary: Survive
DoP - Jacob Friedrich Maria Kohl
Dir. - Lara Milena Brose, Kilian Armando Friedrich

Under the patronage of the Polish Filmmakers Association (SFP)
Best Director's Debut: Titane
DoP - Ruben Impens
Dir. - Julia Ducournau

Villeneuve accepting the Golden Frog Special Award for Outstanding Director.

Under the patronage of the Polish Filmmakers Association (SFP)
Best Cinematographer's Debut: Bipolar
DoP - Yuming Ke
Dir. - Queena Li

Best Music Video: Kuba Kawalec & Ana Andrzejewska "Zdechłam"
DoP - Kacper Fertacz
Dir. - Zuzanna Plisz

Best Episode: Welcome to Utmark: Eye for an Eye
DoP - Andreas Johannessen
Dir. - Dagur Kári

C'mon C'mon
DoP - Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC
Dir. - Mike Mills

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