Europe’s leading celebration of cinematography, the EnergaCamerimage Film Festival, based in Torun, Poland, kicks off its 28th edition Nov. 14 in hybrid form, but with as much glitz and glam as ever, fest director Marek Zidowicz tells Variety.
Having moved back last year to the historic, Gothic-spired city where it was founded, the festival plans to run its trademark showcase of the latest filmmaking technology in online 3D form this year, but will open with live appearances by Viggo Mortensen, as director and lead actor, and cinematographer Marcel Zyskind kicking things off with their intimate father-son drama “Falling,” screening at the Jordanki fest center.
Zidowicz and Kazik Suwala have recently secured funding for a much grander festival center, featuring year-round film studies and studios, the European Film Center, which Suwala heads. For now, Zidowicz says, Camerimage will continue its focus on outstanding lensing, keeping up the tradition that has made the fest’s Golden Frog award a good predictor of Oscar wins in the cinematography category, as happened with “Ida” (2013), “Carol” (2015) and “Lion” (2016).
Variety‘s interview with Zidowicz follows.
Other than the attendance of fewer international guests, an issue all fests are dealing with under the restrictions caused by COVID-19, what elements might balance that out as highlights of this year’s Camerimage?
This year it’s going to be Viggo Mortensen and Marcel Zyskind at the opening gala and our lifetime achievement award recipient Philippe Rousselot at the closing gala. And, for the time being, all the physical meetings with these amazing storytellers and master of lights are going to be a highlight.
How has the hybrid format allowed Camerimage to expand its reach this year?
Apart from the physical screenings that we will have during this year’s edition, following all of the governmental regulations, we will also go online, not only with the films we are programming but also with Q&As, conferences, seminars.
One thing is quite promising: Because of the pandemic and us going online, many people who were not able to travel to Poland before will have the opportunity to “taste” what the festival is about. It is not the same thing, of course, but it is still something.
Normally a healthy share of the top international cinematographers living in L.A. roll in for Camerimage. Which is tougher – the scaled down audience sizes and smaller guest numbers or the issue of forging rights agreements to stream films?
This is really a very strange year to organize the festival – we are working hard to have everything under control but we deal with many organizational aspects we have not dealt before. But keeping people safe is our top priority.
And was the digital technology market a tough sell to the major film companies that sponsor Camerimage, such as Arri, Sony, Cannon, Red, Panavision…?
For the digital market, we are in the process of creating a pretty unique, I hope, 3D surrounding. We are planning to 3D scan the real Jordanki festival center building and to allow the audience to be here, in the festival center, working around, still being safe and sound.
What new opportunities have you found amid all the new challenges?
We will all go deeper into the digital world and the opportunities it presents and I guess we all need to be open to what that means for the festival but I still believe in that basic human need to be together, to develop contacts, to create and hopefully, despite the pandemic, we will all find something new in the real world, not digital.
What are you most looking forward to in this year of unplanned adventures?
The end of COVID and meeting all of our guests, friends, supporters somewhere soon. To have an amazing architectural design for the center and to start building it as soon as we can.