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Festivals 2018-10-19

The Main Competition with the Golden Frog Award has been the most important part of the EnergaCAMERIMAGE Festival from its beginning. The Competition exists since 1993 i.e. since the first edition of the Festival. From the very beginning the idea behind the competition is to present the feature films where the image significantly contributes to the way a story is told. The visual value of these films results from the cooperation between a director and a cinematographer and the unusual sensitivity of the author of a film image. The Main Competition emphasizes the enormous contribution of the cinematographer to the film work.

The aim of the Main Competition is to present films with unique visual appeal which will then be evaluated by International Jury who will choose and award the authors of the best cinematography.

Also this year we will present the most interesting phenomena of world's cinematography, distinctive in terms of creative use of the image in film narration. 

On the 22nd of July 2011, Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik was responsible for two terrorist attacks – first, he set off a car bomb in the middle of Oslo’s government quarter, and then he massacred the members of the youth division of the ruling Labour Party, who were at a summer camp on the island of Utøya – leaving seventy seven dead, over three hundred wounded, and thousands in a state of shock. The film depicts Breivik’s methodical preparations for both attacks, recreates the nightmare it was for the young people who were hunted down without mercy, and re-enacts the subsequent legal battle that turned the eyes of the entire world to Norway. Politicians try to understand how such a tragedy could have happened in the first place. Lawyers prepare evidence and speeches, while the man representing the mass-murderer before the court struggles with his conscience. And then there’s Viljar, a teenager who almost died on the island but recovered enough to want to stand before his executioner and look him in the eye.

Polish title: 22 lipca
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cinematographer: Pål Ulvik Rokseth
Produced by: Scott Rudin Productions
Polish distributor: Netflix
Country and year: Norway, Iceland, USA, 2018

Nowadays, Vincent van Gogh is considered not only an eminent post-impressionist but also one of the most distinguished and influential painters in history; although, during his lifetime he was constantly rejected and mocked. He suffered this derision from people in art circles who did not appreciate his method of depicting the world, and also members of the broader society who were not able to understand his paintings, and perceived the artist as harmful. The film tells the story of van Gogh’s final years, when the painter is persuaded by Paul Gauguin to escape noisy Paris and settle in the town of Arles. There, amidst sun and landscape to die for, van Gogh loses himself in the surrounding natural world. It cannot be said that he finds any empathy or understanding for his avant-garde vision of the world, but despite the growing problems with his troubled mind, it is there that he experiences the most prolific period of his career. The truth is, if it were not for the people he has to deal with, he would be perfectly happy.

Director: Julian Schnabel
Cinematographer: Benoît Delhomme
Produced by: Riverstone Pictures, SPK Pictures, Iconoclast
Country and year: UK, France, USA, 2018

A smiling cowboy sings his favourite tunes while joyously slaying some innocent victims who dared to dare him. A second-rate showman travels through America with a friendly freak in search of people who will pay good money to see an armless and legless man talk to them about things that do not matter. A down-on-his-luck prospector accidentally discovers a true paradise which ultimately turns out to be something else entirely. The film contains six tales from the Old West, both wild and meek, filled with a number of fast and furious eccentrics with loaded six-shooters, hot-headed bank robbers in trouble, ferocious Indian warriors charging against white invaders, as well as fearless women who try to live up to the world of men they cannot escape. This is six loosely linked stories that sometimes depict the mythical times of the Wild West as an uncontrolled giant bloodbath, but at other times portray a surprising amount of softness and romance in the picturesque valleys and canyons. 

Polish title: Ballada o Busterze Scruggsie
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel
Produced by: Mike Zoss Productions, Annapurna Pictures, Annapurna Television
Polish distributor: Netflix
Country and year: USA, 2018

The film is set in the turbulent times after the Second World War. We meet the protagonists in Poland at the end of 1940s, when the country was gradually being rebuilt, and we stay with them through different periods up until the 1960s. We see the physically and mentally demolished East, which is already rotting in the corroding gilded cage of ideology, as well as the liberal, revolutionary West in which it is easy to fall into the trap of supposedly being free. Thousands of people, hundreds of attitudes, dozens of songs, and in the middle of it all, we savour the bittersweet romance of Wiktor and Zula, at once beautiful and toxic. The film tells of a gentleman’s elegance versus the emotional whirlwind of being trapped by one’s secrets and desires. Individual dreams are pit against the opportunistic tendencies of the times. And ultimately, we must accept the world as it was, is and always will be – wild at heart and weird on top. Wiktor and Zula alternately love and hate each other. They break up, and then get back together – their fate seemingly open-ended.

Polish title: Zimna wojna
Director: Paweł Pawlikowski
Cinematographer: Łukasz Żal
Produced by: Opus Film Sp. z o.o.
Polish distributor: KINO ŚWIAT Sp. z o.o.
Country and year: Poland, 2018

England at the beginning of the 18th century was no country for poor people. Abused, exploited, unreasonably taxed to pay for the ever-increasing costs of the continental war with France, they can only stay servile and hope things don’t get worse. They would make a great subject for a film, for sure, but this film is about the treacherous machinations, happy-go-lucky backstabbing and hedonistic games of the bored and influential characters who live in a bubble in the court of the permanently unwell Queen Anne. Shy, lonely and utterly confused in a world of patriarchal politics, the monarch leaves the country’s domestic and foreign affairs to her dear friend Lady Sarah while indulging herself in more down-to-earth matters, like feeding her beloved pet rabbits. At one point, she begins to be courted by Abigail, a former aristocrat who simply wants to lead a joyous, carefree life. But this means war with Lady Sarah. England will definitely not become a good country for poor people, but at least the court folk are enjoying themselves!

Polish title: Faworyta
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cinematographer: Robbie Ryan
Produced by: Element Pictures, Waypoint Entertainment, Scarlet Films, Channel Four Films (FilmFour - Film4)
Polish distributor: Imperial CinePix Sp. z o.o.
Country and year: Ireland, UK, USA, 2018

Before he made one of the most important leaps for mankind, conquering another celestial frontier in the name of the countless people watching him breathlessly from all over the world, Neil Armstrong endured years of hardship, sacrifice and failure that would make most men end up in a state of permanent depression. The film tells the story of the final eight years before the mission that made him the first man on the surface of the moon – eight years of uncertainty and living in the shadow of all of the people who sacrificed their lives to make his attempt to conquer the unknown possible. During this time Armstrong becomes a legend, but he does not cease to be a human being. He is a man broken by family tragedy from the distant past – a man not able to fully express the emotions eating him up from the inside. And he is a man painfully aware of his own limitations and shortcomings but whose self-control helps 

Polish title: Pierwszy człowiek
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cinematographer: Linus Sandgren
Produced by: Dreamworks Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Perfect World Pictures
Polish distributor: United International Pictures Sp. z o.o. (UIP Polska)
Country and year: USA, 2018

The year is 1636, and the rule of the Ming Dynasty – which has governed China for more than two and half centuries – is coming to an end. Soon enough, the Qing Dynasty will take over to lead the empire until the beginnings of the 20th century. Neighbouring Korea, ruled by the Joseon Dynasty, and a centuries-old ally of the Ming rulers, is now an enemy to conquer, and so the Chinese army invades. King Injo escapes with his court and hides away in the mountain fortress of Namhansanseong. It is there that the king’s advisors clash – not being able to agree on the two possible options they have, with some suggesting that the king should surrender and ask the Chinese rulers for mercy, and the rest demanding that they fulfil their patriotic duty and fight to their last breath. Trapped in a place designed to completely isolate its residents from the outside world, the Koreans spend days debating the best possible solution. Winter is coming, however, and it will force both sides to act, even if not in the way they had planned.

Original title: Namhan Sanseong
Director: Dong-Hyuk Hwang
Cinematographer: Ji Yong Kim
Produced by: Siren Pictures
Country and year: South Korea, 2017

The year is 1815, on the eighteenth day of June. A young, shell-shocked soldier is wandering through the remains of a horrific battlefield. With corpses stretching to the horizon, he tries to comprehend what he’s witnessed. Waterloo’s horrors will reverberate throughout the whole of Europe in years to come. The year is 1819, on the sixteenth day of August. Thousands of protesters from all walks of life – peasants, factory workers, journalists, and intellectuals – watch in astonishment as ferocious soldiers charge at them. The massacre during the demonstration in Manchester, later known as Peterloo, and driven by the hurricane of change coming from France and the United States, will soon launch a painful yet necessary process of change in England. The film is set in the years between these two crucial historical events and tells an amalgam of stories of people directly or indirectly connected with what happened at Waterloo and Peterloo. Despite the more than two hundred years that have since passed, their echoes still reverberate in Europe.

Director: Mike Leigh
Cinematographer: Dick Pope
Produced by: Thin Man Films Ltd., BFI Film Fund, Helen Gerson, Film4
Country and year: UK, 2018

The United Kingdom in the 1950s is slowly recovering from the traumatic experience that was the Second World War, but the effects of the economic collapse are to reverberate everywhere for many years to come. However, Reynolds Woodcock, a brilliant fashion designer, fearless ladies’ man and self-possessed tyrant, struggles with a completely different problem. It so happens that Alma, the waitress he decides to enamour and make his umpteenth trophy muse, somehow causes him to lose his grip on his perfectly controlled little world – not only because she is such a charming woman that can turn any man’s life upside down, but also due to the fact that Alma’s strong personality is a surprising match for Woodcock’s. The designer realises that his aesthetical, ephemeral world of art and beauty has always in fact been controlled by strong women who’ve allowed him to become the irresistible charmer and the brilliant design virtuoso he prides himself to be.

Polish title: Nić widmo
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cinematographer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Produced by: Annapurna Pictures, Ghoulardi Film Company, Focus Features
Polish distributor: United International Pictures Sp. z o.o. (UIP Polska)
Country and year: UK, USA, 2017

The film is based on the true story of how British boxer William “Billy” Moore overcomes his physical weaknesses and inner demons in search of redemption for his past sins. Addicted to hard drugs and standing dangerously on the brink of self-destruction, Moore is arrested and put in Thailand’s Bang Kwang prison, notorious for being a true hell on Earth. While serving his time, the boxer focuses on living each day without provoking any of the hardened criminals he comes into contact with, while hoping every night that he will not be raped or beaten to death. Gradually he loses all hope, but everything changes when he takes up Thai boxing. The sport helps him release the anger he feels for everyone and everything, and it gives him the opportunity to find the meaning of his life. Despite the fact that he looks pale in comparison to the tattooed warriors who claim the prison as their own, the boxer proves time and again that he deserves both respect and a second chance.

Director: Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire
Cinematographer: David Ungaro
Produced by: Senorita Films, Hurricane Films
Country and year: France, UK, Cambodia, USA, China, 2017

Roma is the name of a middle-class neighbourhood in Mexico City, and this is the story of a family living there and dealing with life’s trials and tribulations. Their ups and downs sometimes arise out of the individual decisions of the family members, and sometimes they’re the result of the political and social upheaval that Mexico City experienced at the beginning of the 1970s. Cleo is the household maid and a descendant of the Mixtecs, the indigenous Mesoamerican people of Mexico. She helps the adults take care of the house and makes sure their children feel enough love and support to develop properly. This is not an easy life, but Cleo is more than aware that things could be worse for her. That is why she takes the world as it is. Trying to find some happiness in a country in which the gap between the classes widens every year and males more often than not turn out to be capricious men-children, Cleo does what is expected of her, while negotiating her own needs and desires.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cinematographer: Alfonso Cuarón
Produced by: Esperanto Filmos, Participant Media
Polish distributor: Netflix
Country and year: Mexico, USA, 2018


Working in an impressive-looking skyscraper, a young journalist gets an assignment to write an article about Edith Stein, a Wroclaw-born Jewish woman who lived in Germany and fought against the mistreatment of women and Hitler’s message of hate. She was severely persecuted but went through a deep spiritual transformation and became a Discalced Carmelite nun by the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She died in Auschwitz, but several decades later was canonised as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church, becoming one of the patron saints of Europe. All of this is general knowledge one can find in many places; however, during his research, the journalist is introduced to different aspects of Edith Stein’s life and legacy: from serving as a Red Cross nurse during the First World War to educating and stirring young women into action in the increasingly radicalising country. Writing a good story about this woman who he’ll never meet will become the greatest challenge of his life.

Director: Joshua Sinclair
Cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro
Produced by: A Rose In Winter Ltd
Country and year: UK, 2018

Last modified on 2018-10-19