NZCS Committee member Marc Swadel reports from Europe on the goings on thus far this year.
Belgrade, Serbia was the location for 2019 IMAGO general meeting and the World Cinematography awards. It is a beautiful city that bridges two worlds, sitting between the EU, and the Russian and Slavic East. First up was the IAGA, the summit of IMAGO, where representatives from the member associations join to discuss IMAGO business and Cinematography in general, and secondly, the 2nd edition of the IMAGO World Cinematography Awards, which is the only such awards for Cinematographers, voted by Cinematographers.
For the first two days - 52 delegates, representing the 63 societies, met and went over the business to hand. On the first day of the meeting, I voted for both NZCS and ACS (being an ACS member) as ACS President Ron Johanson was undertaking his duties as IMAGO board member. Piet DeVries, ACS arrived on the second day and took the reins for the ACS.
The opening news – the BSC, at their 2019 Awards, had given IMAGO the International Achievement Award, in recognition of the work being done by the organisation, across many areas - a sign of the growing importance of IMAGO as a strong, and respected World body. Nigel Walters BSC relates how, when the Academy relegated the Cinematography Oscar from the main show for the 2019 Academy Awards, the BSC asked IMAGO to send a letter representing the World’s Cinematographers requesting the Academy to reconsider this bad decision, a letter, which he feels was an important part in the decision being overturned, and the Cinematography Award being reinstated to the main show.
As always, there was a lot going on – the committees for Authorship, Working Conditions, and Gender and Inclusion (formally known as Gender and Diversity) made their presentations. I got up and gave a good account of the NZCS Gender and Diversity programme to the assembly - there was a lot of interest and questions, and various societies were impressed that the initiative had support from productions, and also on a governmental level (NZFC) which is virtually unheard of for most countries. The conversation spun out into the general scene for women, and different ethnicities – I mentioned how our biggest grossing films internally and internationally have been directed by either Māori or female directors (Taika’s films, Whale Rider, The Piano etc) and mentioned Waru, Rūrangi and Vermillion also.
On Authorship – we learnt that FERA - the European Association of Directors – speak of Cinematographers as Authors, and are talking to the Rights collection agencies –this is a great development, along our rocky road to full rights and royalties. Alex Sterian, from the Romanian Society, mentioned that in his country, the Directors and Screenwriters are against DOP’s gaining rights.
Things are changing. Jost Vacano BVK, supported by IMAGO and the BVK, won a landmark case in the EU court in late 2016 for compensation of lost rights earned from his work on ‘Das Boot’ – a case which has helped dialogue greatly.
This is something we need to really look at in NZ – we need to explore rights and royalties – and with a large majority of production funding coming from the government – perhaps it is something the NZCS could ally with all the other organizations to implement, for the greater good? What we need to do – is to defend and enlarge our position – we don’t want DP to stand for ‘Data Provider’ which we are in danger of being seen as...
The Technical Committee opened discussions on the subject of Netflix – and how the web broadcaster chooses the camera for the DOP with a specs only approach. Dave Stump ASC is involved with the process, and IMAGO will meet with not only Netflix, but also Apple and Amazon in regards to this. As Lindén, FSF, co-chair of the committee states – the more we meet, the more we can change the mindset.
Another win via IMAGO – was and amendment on EU Directive on Eco-design rules – the ‘Single Lighting Regulation’ that made all non ‘Eco’ fixtures (such as tungsten) illegal. Obviously a huge impact on the DOP toolset! IMAGO contacted the EU Regulatory body, and won an exception dispensation regards non ‘Eco’ fixtures for film+ performance lighting design.
I was invited to sit in with the IMAGO G+I committee, which consists of Nina Kellgren BSC (who has been dubbed the most prolific female Cinematographer by the BFI), Ron Johanson ACS OAM (12 year as president of the ACS and 50 years as a DOP) and Estonia’s Elen Lotman ESC, who is the president of her society, is finishing her PhD, bringing up her three kids, teaching film, and working as a DOP! One thing that is evident across Europe – there are few female cinematographers/operators/AC’s, let alone non-white ones! The ethnic makeup here is a lot less rich than what we have in NZ, and Europe-wide, with many immigrant families, the impetus is to gain a degree and a professional career – doctor, lawyer accountant etc. A freelance career in the camera department, would not rate high on the list of parentally approved occupations, that’s for sure.
Amongst the business, current IMAGO President, Paul René Roestad, was voted in for another three year term and on the board, Daniele Nannuzzi AIC ASC, stepped down, and Alex Lindén, FSF, was elected to be the new member. Daniele, who’s most known film in NZ would be Jodorowsky’s ‘Santa Sangre’, had been one of the original founding members of IMAGO in 1992, and his energy will be missed from the organisation.
Nigel Walters BSC, was appointed IMAGO Ambassador to the eastern group (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic etc) to foster regional co-operation, as it is important to forge links here.
IMAGO, just like the NZCS, is in the throes of choosing a new logo. Paul-René jokes that this is his idea of hell – 52 delegates all suggesting ideas! Luckily this hell is not realised, as three possibilities are chosen for further development. Bullet dodged.
One of the motions voted on, was the formal change of the name of IMAGO from the European Society of Cinematographers, to the INTERNATIONAL Society of Cinematographers – to reflect the reality of the membership, and the growing stature of IMAGO. IMAGO has members from all points – from the South Africans, Malaysia, Argentina, Canada, Japan, Turkey... a truly global organisation. The only major societies outside of IMAGO are the ASC (who are barred from joining due to their statutes) the Russian and Chinese Societies, and the French, who were a founder member, but parted ways when the organization became international (which they did not agree with) but always have Philippe Ros AFC in attendance who is head of the ITC – IMAGO Technical Committee.
After the conference, we were lucky to have Phil Greenstreet from Rosco, host (as per usual) a fantastic get together, at a local ‘old-school’ boozer, with a free bar and loads of fantastic local food. A great way to relax and decompress from the IAGA with friends, old and new. And I made a whole new bunch – hanging out with the Ukrainians and Russians, many who grew up and worked in the Soviet era.
The 2019 Edition of the IMAGO World Cinematography Awards, were held at the National Serbian Kinoteka, with Predrag Bambic, SAS, the Serbian Societies President, opening the Awards Ceremony, which were simulcast live via the internet.
About this year’s event: the 2019 edition saw 143 films from 52 countries being watched by 99 jurors. Tony Costa AIP, who is on the organizing committee, relates how the Awards have energized and activated the membership – an immense cultural interchange takes place, as films are being seen that would never been seen outside of the member countries.
Amongst the main awards – there were several special recognition Awards given out to Cinematographers who deserved to be celebrated:
The International Honorary Member´s Award was given to Kommer Kleijn, SBC. Kommer is a Cinematography pioneer – being the first to shoot a film digitally in 2k and 4k, as well as being the first to shoot a large format film on a single chip sensor. Kommer also initiated bringing 25/30/50/60 FPS into the DCP standard.
The International Award for Extraordinary Technical Achievement was given to David Stump, ASC. David has worked on numerous motion pictures and television productions as Director of Photography, as Visual Effects Director of Photography, as Visual Effects Supervisor, and as Stereographer, (including both live action work and 2D to 3D conversion work), earning an Emmy and an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement. His credits include Quantum of Solace, Mars Attacks, Stuart Little and Contact amongst many others.
International Award for Extraordinary Contribution to the Art of Cinematography
was given to The Manaki Brothers ICFF Film Festival, which is the first and oldest cinematography film festival (40thanniversary this year!). The directors, on receiving the award, were given with a very heartfelt, en-passioned speech by Nigel Waltlers BSC.
The International Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Cinematography, was given to Rachel Morrison, ASC, who is the first female to be nominated for a best Cinematography Oscar, for Mudbound, and, last but not least, the award which earnt a 5 minute standing ovation -International Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cinematography given to Ed Lachman, ASC. Ed, who has had a wonderful career, being a 4 times Camerimage Golden Frog winner, and having multiple Oscar nominations through lensing such films as Carol, The Virgin Suicides, Far From Heaven and Erin Brockovich. Ed also gives time to teach the next generation, to pass on what he knows.
Next we have the competitive awards – which I was told by the judging committee had a record number of entries from a record number of countries this year, and the judging was ‘beyond tough’. The most nominated societies are the ASC, the BSC and the Finns, the FSC.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY FOR A FEATURE FILM
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC for Blade Runner 2049
Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC for Lion
Rauno Ronkainen, FSC for The Eternal Road
Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC for The Favourite
Yuriy Klimenko, RGC for Mathilde
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY FOR A DOCUMENTARY FILM
Adolpho Veloso, ABC for On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace
Juan Sarmiento, ADFC for Central Airport THF
Heikki Färm, FSC for Entrepreneur
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY FOR TELEVISION DRAMA
András Nagy, HSC for Eternal Winter
Brendan Steacy, ASC for Alias Grace
Thomas W. Kiennast, AAC for Maximilian
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY FOR AN EMERGING YOUNG CINEMATOGRAPHER
Jurgis Kmins for Bille
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY FOR A STUDENT FILM
Balázs István Balázs for Casting
University of Theatre and Film Arts, Hungary, Budapest
After the awards event, the throng then moved over the road to the ‘Aero Klub’ for a sit down celebration dinner. I sat at the ‘Commonwealth’ table – NZ/Aussie/South African and Canadian DOPs who formed a bit of a drinking club (well, being suited and all, I guess it was as formal as it could be!).
So in conclusion – a very full three day overload of cinematography, with an overall sense of strength – strength of work, of solidarity, and fraternity, and a sense of connection. The 2nd edition of the Awards hit higher - with a noted attendance of more members of the ASC and BSC, and big contingents of Russians, Spanish, Brazilians and Danes. Both the Awards and IMAGO meeting had a strong OZ/NZ input this year, with Ron (Pres. Of the ACS and head of the Awards Committee) and myself talking the mic at the meeting, and at the Awards, Piet DeVries ACS presenting an award and Grieg Fraser ACS being up for an award. Lets get one of our guys up for an award in 2021 – there is the challenge NZCS!!
On a side note – the most ‘in demand’ possible location for an Awards is Sydney... and if that comes to pass, then the party will be in the backyard – will be one not to miss!