Camerimage: A unique festival honoring the art and craft of cinematography

by Sven Mikulec

Deep in the heart of Poland, a rather unique film festival is taking place from this Saturday to the next. Camerimage, the biggest and most important festival of its kind, tirelessly honors the art of cinematography and brings to the fore all those creators and artists whose work often remains neglected and efforts sometimes seem underappreciated. Started back in 1993, this festival has changed several venues, only to settle in the lovely town of Bydgoszcz (beed-gosh-ch) on the waters of the Brda and Vistula rivers. Each year, Camerimage gathers an impressive crowd eager to pay their respects to the visual and technical masters of both the past and contemporary cinema, offering an abundance of activities and screening numerous beautiful, carefully chosen films from morning to midnight.

Unlike all the traditional festivals, Camerimage cherishes cinematography above all and awards films based on this main criterion. It’s an ever-growing event that honestly does its best to promote the art and contribute to repairing the wrong bestowed on artists behind the camera whose talent and credit gets overlooked much too easily. Nowhere else do cinematographers get such royal treatment and the opportunity to stand in the spotlight prepared exclusively for them. I find this to be a beautiful effort, and it seems I’m hardly the only one. Each year Camerimage gains more recognition and respect from the filmmaking community. To understand what I mean, it’s enough to take just a peek at the special guests list. Next week you’ll be able to walk the picturesque streets of Bydgoszcz and meet the likes of the legendary editor and sound designer Walter Murch, or the great Italian director of photography Vittorio Storaro, one of history’s ten most influential cinematographers according to the International Cinematographers Guild. If that doesn’t cut it—and if you’re as big of a filmlover as we are, it should!—visitors might get a chance to talk to respected actors such as Paul Bettany and Giovanni Ribisi.

The festival itself consists of dozens of events. Apart from films presented in the Main Competition, there’s the Documentary Films Competition, Music Videos CompetitionStudent Etudes Competition, screenings of most successful student films, Directors’ Debuts CompetitionCinematographers’ Debuts Competition, as well as the Polish Films Competition, showcasing the best cinematic efforts made in the country of rich and unique film history. Personally, I’m really looking forward to this year’s Remembering the Masters section, where cinematographer Gunnar Fischer’s collaborations with Ingmar Bergman will be screened. The opportunity to enjoy the likes of Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal or The Magician on the silver screen is a chance I don’t intend to miss.

There’s one more thing I feel I should say. Camerimage is the first film festival I’ll ever attend in the function of Cinephilia & Beyond’s journalist, and this will be my first opportunity to interview filmmaking legends in real life, which I can’t stress enough how exciting it is for me. What I suspect I’ll find in Bydgoszcz is a whole group of professional journalists who do this for a living, who travel around the globe and who will find the festival lovely and charming, but see it as just another assignment. For me, a 27-year-old English teacher from Zagreb with a huge passion for movies, this will be a very special occasion and, regardless of what happens in Bydgoszcz, an experience forever etched in my memory. With an obvious thanks to the Camerimage team who kindly invited us to attend, acknowledging the work we’ve put into this website, I’d like to extend my gratitude through the screen to all of you readers, without whose support and encouragement C&B’s candle might have burnt out long ago.

The detailed schedule of 22nd CAMERIMAGE can be viewed and downloaded by clicking on the link below. It presents the full schedule of screenings, workshops, meetings and accompanying events in the festival locations.


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