Cinematographers Take Over Łódź

With a screening of Get Low, the 17th Plus Camerimage International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography was launched last Saturday.

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that Łódź is one of the capitals of world cinema today”, these were the inaugurating remarks from Hanna Lis, who co-hosted the opening ceremony with Michał Lonstar. “I’m not sure if everyone is aware of the fact that Plus Camerimage has been listed as one of the world’s 50 most important film festivals by Variety”.


“Welcome to Łódź!”, said Jerzy Kropiwnicki, the mayor of Łódź, as he opened the festival.

Several special awards were presented during the opening ceremony.


The Special Award to a Polish Cinematographer for Immense Contribution to the Art of Film went to Dariusz Wolski, who works mainly in Hollywood. He was introduced in an on-screen appearance by Johnny Depp, who has worked with Wolski on numerous occasions. “Dariusz is a genius! But he’s also a good man and a wonderful friend”, he said.


The Special Award to an Editor with Unique Visual Sensitivity was presented to Thelma Schoonmaker, three-time Oscar winner and long-time collaborator of Martin Scorsese.

“When Martin and I studied together, we watched all the films from Łódź. We couldn’t believe how many great talents came from this city. Most recently, while working on The Departed, Martin showed Diamonds and Ashes by Andrzej Wajda to Leonardo DiCaprio, to have him see the excellent portrayal of a character’s loneliness by Zbyszek Cybulski. This was what he wanted for Leonardo’s character. In fact, the poster for Wajda’s film is, apart from photos from Scorsese’s films, the only picture hanging on the walls of my editing room. So you can understand how important this award is to me. I’d also like to say a very special hello from Martin, who hopes that the Łódź film school never ceases to provide the world with such talented filmmakers.”


The Special Award to a Director with Unique Visual Sensitivity went to Terry Gilliam. This creator of a number of acclaimed films and member of the Monty Python group received the award on stage from his director of photography Nicola Pecorini.


“It is nice to receive an award for something you enjoy doing. Although it should probably be the other way around”, Gilliam joked. “A film is in fact the work of many people; the director just puts it all together. Roman, this is for you, you are not alone”, he finished, remarking on the arrest of Roman Polański. The audience applauded.


The Special Award to a Producer of Visually Outstanding Films was presented to Richard Zanuck by his son. Zanuck, who won an Academy Award for Driving Miss Daisy, produced a number of films, including Jaws, The Sting and Road to Perdition.

The Student Film Competition was announced by Bill Murray, to the surprise of the festival staff. “I really wanted to participate in this because László Kovács, the patron of this Competition, was a dear friend of mine”, explained Murray after appearing on stage. “The longer you applaud, the more people will have a chance to stretch their legs and step out for a moment to get away from this official gala. Just like at the Oscars.”


This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Volker Schlöndorff, director of The Tin Drum, Homo Faber, Young Törless, and more recently Strike, based on the story of the Solidarity movement.

The award was presented by Agnieszka Odorowicz and Daniel Olbrychski.


“You are not only a wonderful director, filmmaker and humanist, but also a great friend of Poland and Poles”, said the director of the Polish Film Institute. “In all these years since your debut, you have aged by no more than ten minutes”, she added.


Schlöndorff thanked Odorowicz, Olbrychski and festival director Marek Żydowicz. “I still don’t know why I receive all these awards. There are so many smart and talented people out there. Maybe it’s because of a conversation Marek and I had some 20 years ago. It was then that I suggested to him that instead of yet another typical film festival he should organize a slightly more unique event… This award, here in Łódź, is a great honour. Thank you”, said the director, genuinely moved.


“Yes, it was in fact Volker who gave me the idea for this festival”, admitted Żydowicz. “I hope that in five years I will be able to show him something even more interesting. I’d like to invite everyone to the presentation of the Camerimage Łódź Centre – a project of which I am very proud. Łódź will soon become a true centre of film production.”


The Plus Camerimage film festival ends on December 5. Seventeen films are competing for the Golden Frog Award. The first of these, Get Low by Aaron Schneider (director of photography: David Boyd), was screened on Saturday.


Translated by Karolina Kołtun