A Brief History of the Camerimage Film Festival

The Camerimage International Festival is a unique International Film Festival devoted to the celebration and recognition of cinematography. This year it celebrates its 25th birthday. It takes place over the course of one week at the end of November annually and features multiple films and other industry events. The festival is known for its stellar reputation amongst industry professionals and attendance has grown from around 2,000 in its infancy to an audience of more than 70,000 today.

Where and When was it Founded?

It was founded by the Polish director Marek Zydowicz as a way to recognize the work of cinematographers. He and a group of Polish Film enthusiasts, Sven Nykvist and Vittorio Storaro, believed that the work of cinematographers was not sufficiently recognized in the industry and the established a manifesto and the festival to address that failing. The festival started in 1993 and it was first held in the director’s hometown ToruÅ„ in Poland. It ran in ToruÅ„ for seven years until 1999. In 1999 the festival moved Lódź which is home to the Polish National Film School which boasts famous alumni including the controversial director Roman Polanski. It was hosted there for the following 10 years until it moved again in 2010. A dispute with the city over planning issues led to a move to the Polish city, Bydgoszcz.

Festival Development

The audience numbers have shown a steady increased over the years from a starting point of only 2000 to audiences in the range of 70000 in recent years. Camerimage has gradually become recognized as a true heavyweight in the cinematography world with many screenings and other events. Emphasis is not placed on red carpet events but on showcases, exhibitions and industry meetings. It briefly changed its name to Camerimage Plus from 2007 until 2013 while it had a sponsorship arrangement with Plus. In the last 5 years the Festival has extended its reach and moves outside of its native Poland to present the Camerimage Winners’ Show in February in Los Angeles.

Notable winners

Among those who have been honored to receive the Camerimage’s Lifetime Achievement Award are Michael Chapman for Raging Bull), the late Laszlo Kovacs for Easy Rider, Michael Ballhaus for the inimitable Goodfellas, Vilmos Zsigmond for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Haskell Wexler for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Golden Frog, the Festivals top prize, winners have included Stuart Dryburg in 1993 for The Piano, Conrad Hall for Road to Perdition, Guillermo Navarro for the enchanting Pan’s Labyrinth and the stunning City of God by César Charlone.

Academy Awards recognition.

The Cameraimage Festival is judged to be an important bellwether for the Oscar nod. In three out of the past four years, the winners of Camerimage’s main competition the Golden Frog have gone on to receive Oscar nominations. As an indicator of the esteem and status that the festival has earned, short documentary films who have been awarded the Golden Frog Award in the Camerimage festival are included for consideration in that category of the Academy Awards without having to meet some of the other Academy standards in terms of a theatre run.

Camerimage is a unique festival that allows the men and women to come out from behind the camera and enjoy their own time in the spotlight. The festival is a highlight in the calendar of all cinematography professionals and students.

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