Camerimage 2021 Diary – by the team at public relations and publicity firm EB Comms
- Students have come roaring back, eager to share their love of cinema.
- Toruń could very well become the epicentre of European cinema.
- DP Bruno Delbonnel AFC ASC’s stunning work on The Tragedy Of Macbeth wows the crowd.
- There’s a heartfelt tribute to the late DP Haylna Hutchins.
- Hope blooms with 12 Mighty Orphans shot, by DP David McFarland.
- Camaraderie and enthusiasm abound at this great festival.
Saturday, November 13th:
By arriving from LA the day before the EnergaCAMERIMAGE Festival begins (recommended for all who wish to attend this week-long event), we were able to curb the jolly old jetlag and get an early start.
At 8:00am we met with the gaffer extraordinaire Jakob Ballinger, from The Light Bridge, for coffee and tea, and discussed Greig Fraser ACS ASC and Josh Brolin’s “Dune: Behind-The-Scenes Photo & Word” exhibition, open to the public and festival-goers in the Center Of Contemporary Art throughout the festival.
Shortly after, we took a first-morning stroll through the historic Toruń, in awe of the medieval architecture, and spent quite some time admiring the choice of the festival’s location. (In previous years, EnergaCAMERIMAGE has been hosted in other cities in Poland). There is something really special about this place, you can feel it as you walk down the cobbled streets.
At our first attempt to enter the CKK Jordanki to pick up our passes, we came across several endearing and excited students, including a young Indonesian and his friend from Italy, who has a short film screening in the Student Etudes Competition.
In light of the pandemic, and last year’s virtual festival, students have come roaring back to the festival this year eager to share their love of cinema. Still, we estimate that there is around a third of the number of those normally in attendance. However, it is important to note that there are well over 300 cinematographers in attendance this year, and it is only day one!
We were turned away from CKK Jordanki until doors opened at noon, so we wandered the streets, stumbling upon a cozy nook of a wine bar disguised as a breakfast spot. The small restaurant quickly filled after our arrival, with one diner being production designer, Kalina Ivanov (The Tender Bar), to whom we spoke about her upcoming panel “Creating Worlds On Screen: Production Design & Cinematography”, also featuring fellow production designer Nelson Coates (In The Heights) and cinematographer Ari Wegner ACS ASC (The Power Of The Dog). Kalina also recollected her personal and production collaboration with talented DP Martin Ruhe ASC (The Tender Bar) who is also in attendance this year.
Back in line for festival badges – the queue wrapped around the street corner – we stood shivering, but with much anticipation. After our first peek around the Jordanki, we returned to the Hotel Solaris to recoup and refresh before the evening’s opening ceremony and the festivities finally beginning!
With a host of Polish festival coordinators and city officials making their remarks, via the help of a superb translator (the best we have ever seen/heard), the theatre for the opening ceremony was filled with a collective sigh of relief to finally be back where everyone felt they belonged.
Camerimage boss, Marek Żydowicz, spoke about the renaissance after 1918’s Spanish Flu plague and the parallels with the on-going pandemic. He noted how art and cinema evolved after such influences and how the pandemic has become a time of learning and growth.
The mayor of Toruń, Michał Zaleski, officially announced the city’s new European Film Center, estimated to be completed in 2025. In just a few short years, Toruń could very well be the epicentre of European cinema and put this humble town on the global movie map.
The most impactful statement of the night came from 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Philippe Rousselot AFC ASC who eloquently stated, and thanked Camerimage for reminding us all, that “We are part of one community, the human kind.”
Oh, but wait! The night did not quite end there. This year the festival invited all those in attendance to a special dual-screening of The Tragedy Of Macbeth (DP Bruno Delbonnel AFC ASC, dir. Joel Coen) and Parallel Mothers (DP José Luis Alcaine, dir. Pedro Almodóvar).
Before the night’s end, we were only able to squeeze in the screening of the exquisitely simplistic and visually-stunning The Tragedy Of Macbeth. Coen and Delbonnel have outdone themselves in the shooting of this magnificent monochromatic movie. We can all thank Coen’s wife (and leading star) Frances McDormand for encouraging her husband, from the earliest concept stages, to make this adaptation come life.
In the short Q&A that followed, Coen and Delbonnel discussed: why B&W filming on the most basic level is instantly abstracting, but in a way that is intelligible to everyone; how abstraction was essential in adapting the stage play to the big screen; and how they avoided realism and focussed on theatrics.
Bruno honed in on the comparable nature of shooting this film like a musical score, while Coen centred his thoughts around retaining the essence of the original play. The result is insanely-good, optically-enthralling experience that captures the idea that Shakespeare is both timeless and universal to human experience and behaviour. Ultimately, we can’t wait to see what accolades this sympatico duo collect in the coming awards season and what collaboration they plan next.
As the night came to its curtain call director Joe Wright said he has, “High hopes for this week,” and we can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
Sunday, November 14th:
Up at the crack of dawn. The hustle and bustle of EnergaCAMERIMAGE Festival is getting into full swing. With coffee and tea in-hand, morning meetings are off to an early start for attendees, while locals are heading to church.
The first screening of the day was the narrative fiction film Son Of Monarchs, shot by Alejandro Mejia AMC, followed by an insightful Q&A with the DP. Alejandro discussed the displacement of self when somebody lives in two different countries – how they can be connected to their place of birth, whilst also forming a new identity in a second homeland, but somehow feeling that they don’t truly belong anywhere anymore. In addition, he touched on the approach to colour within the film using the orange of the monarch butterfly wings to signify that sense of displacement. The film’s colour palette was significant in helping to identify the confusing, conflicting emotions of yearning for one’s native homeland, while guiltily identifying with another culture.
Son Of Monarchs explores topics of hard science. It was a feat to shoot, especially capturing monarch butterflies in their natural habitat, which required a three-hour hike and macro photography, where Alejandro connected his camera to the actual microscopes used to dissect the insects.
Ultimately, Son Of Monarchs is a love story of Mexican culture, life in New York City, the family and our fears about climate change. It’s a marriage of science and narrative fiction, for which director Alex Gambis has been widely lauded and we recommend it to all. An additional, notable mention to film lovers is that the lead, Tenoch Huerta (who plays Mendel) is set to appear in the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, shot by Autumn Durald.
Up next was cinematographer Robert Elswit ASC’s King Richard (dir. Reinaldo Marcus Green), featuring a performance by Will Smith that really moved the audience. Robert has beautifully captured both the highs and lows of the story, with deep empathy for each character.
Emotions also ran high in the main theatre at CKK Jordanki, as a memorial screening of the late DP Halyna Hutchin’s Hidden took place. Before the short began, Amy Vincent ASC and Alice Brooks Spencer ASC presented the film with a heartfelt tribute to Haylna’s legacy. A special appearance by ASC president, Stephen Lighthill ASC took place via Zoom and he was joined on-stage in LA by other ASC members.
That tone of sadness underscored many films screening today but hope bloomed towards the evening with 12 Mighty Orphans shot by DP David McFarland. The narrative Disney feature film is inspired by a true story about a football coach (and former orphan) who took on the challenge of raising a school of underdog orphans and turned them into a winning football team. The film includes original footage of the events that took place during the depression era.
In the Q&A that followed, McFarland discussed how they shot the football scenes in roughly seven days and how he only takes a job if can relate to the story on a personal level. In this case, McFarland is a Texan native who grew up hearing the remarkable and inspirational story of the original Mighty Mites. All-in-all, much like the true story, the film inspires hope within.
Later in the evening Alice Brooks ASC introduced her vibrant film In The Heights and has plans to do so again with a Q&A for the screening of Tick, Tick…Boom! later in the week.
The FilmLight Colour Awards experienced tech gremlins before kicking off, which we hope to learn and share more insight about in our next blog. In fact, our team and the festival’s remarkable staff and volunteers, are clearly struggling in a world that is experiencing delivery delays, unpredictable hotspot lockdowns, flight cancellations and the usual chaos of a planet that is attempting to return to “normal.”
However, the spirit of camaraderie and enthusiasm at this great festival make it a joyful place to experience a few hiccups. And of course, everyone has a “getting to Camerimage” war story to delight and entertain.
Ultimately, with a full house in the theatre, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, shot on Kodak celluloid by DP Robert Yeoman ASC, ended our day on a delightfully charming and anecdotal note. One of Anderson’s most whimsical films yet, The French Dispatch is a love letter to journalism that we can’t help but be inspired by. Bob Yeoman adds to the quirkiness of the film with unique and clever shots in a display of incredible cinematographic prowess, while keeping true to the unique, nostalgic colour grading of Anderson’s other films.
Other notable mentions of today’s screenings include Ante Cheng and Matthew Chuang’s Blue Bayou (Dir: Justin Chon), shot on Kodak 16mm film, which is visually-mesmerising. To cap off the night, we met the charming South African cinematographer, Jamie Ramsay, now based in London. His screening of Mothering Sunday takes place later in the week and it’s one we’re hearing lots of buzz about.
Emmanuel Bates Communications (www.EBComs.com) is a public relations and publicity firm that specialises in representing the world’s best behind-the-camera artists. With offices in Los Angeles, London and the bush, just outside Sydney, Australia, it delivers services to it’s valued clients worldwide.