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“Festivals and competitions would not be possible without cinematographers”


- “Whatever I contribute, I always feel like I take away much, much more,” said Ed Lachman at Poland’s Camerimage festival

“Festivals and competitions would not be possible without cinematographers”
Cinematographer Ed Lachman, who went home with the top prize in the international competition for Carol (© Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

There was certainly some applause for US director Steven Spielberg when his name appeared in the credits after the screening of his new film, Bridge of Spies – but it was nothing compared to the applause generated by his Polish cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, who has worked with him since Schindler’s List (1993) and nabbed Oscars not only for that, but also for 1998’s Saving Private Ryan.

Unspooling from 13-21 November, the Camerimage International Film Festival in Bydgoszcz, northern Poland, hosted the second European presentation of the Tom Hanks starrer, but Kaminski was not honoured because he is Polish – the festival is dedicated to the art of cinematography, and this year it was attended by 500-600 cinematographers from all over the world.

“It is mainly directors and actors who attract attention at festivals and competitions. Yet this would not be possible without the great art of cinematographers,” explained the founder of Camerimage and festival director Marek Żydowicz. At the closing ceremony in the Opera Nova festival centre, he said that plans were afoot for the event to grow both in terms of programming and international participation.

Admittedly, to make a film you need a director and a story – but as Oscar-nominated Polish writer-director Marcel Lozinski observed when he was on stage to receive the Award for Outstanding Achievements in Documentary Filmmaking, “It is remarkable to see how many film photographers have become directors, while only a few directors have become film photographers.”

With another 500 film professionals in other areas and more than 1,000 students with festival passes, everyday life at Camerimage – boasting an extensive schedule of screenings and special events – was very much like the early days at Cannes, when there were 350 journalists (not 8,000, like there were this year) and the love of cinema still reigned over business.

At the closure of the gathering, US producer Frank Spotnitz accepted the first Award for a Television Producer with Unique Visual Sensitivity; among his credits are The X-Files (Fox), Night Stalker (ABC), Robbery Homicide Division (CBS – created by Michael Mann), Strike Back: Project Dawn (HBO/Cinema, Sky) and, more recently, The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) and Medici: Masters of Florence (RAI). 

The festival also introduced an Award for a Costume Designer with Unique Visual Sensitivity, won by the UK’s Sandy Powell, who has supplied 44 features, been Oscar-nominated for ten and won for three (John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love, Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator and Jean-Marc Vallée’s The Young Victoria [+see also:
film profile

US cinematographer Ed Lachman, who went home with the top prize in the international competition for Todd HaynesCarol [+see also:
film profile
, concluded his visit to Bydgoszcz in this way: “I will always be a student here, and whatever I contribute to this festival, I always feel like I take away much, much more.”

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