Camerimage, from voyage of initiation to annual pilgrimage

By Denis Lenoir, AFC, ASC

par Denis Lenoir

[English] [français]

Camerimage has been a regular haunt of Denis Lenoir, AFC, ASC, for some time now. In attendance this year as a member of the jury for the Polish Film competition, here, he shares his impressions after returning from the 25th annual festival.

As I’ve become a regular at Camerimage over the past years, I’ve come to terms with the fact that once you’re back in the real world - one in which all of its inhabitants are not students of cinema, executives in manufacturing firms producing equipment for our profession, and directors of photography of every age and nationality - it is impossible to try and pass along, or even describe, what is it that draws a crowd, which is as diverse in its origins as it is homogeneous in what brings it together, to the deepest reaches of Poland to commune around 288 films screened, I don’t know how many conferences and talks, and an incalculable number of unexpected encounters, and lastly (or most of all ?) parties that are as noisy as they are drunken (on this topic, this year, I tried, with great success, and this is why I am writing it here, a diet that worked for me : only drink vodka and cold water, not a drop of wine, beer, or even soda or fruit juice : my nights were calm and my mornings clear-headed).

The day following my arrival, my wife told me she was sorry not to have come along with me. I explained to her that being at Camerimage was like attending a Norwegian dentists’ convention : we, the Norwegian dentists, share a world of crowns, bridges, picks, and rollers (the manufacturers !), we are capable of listening to talks and admiringly watch the filmed feats of the most brilliant of our colleagues, but the boredom could push non-dentists, if any were to be present amongst us, to desperate acts ! I believe it was two years ago when I last returned home from the Festival, and on my way home in the airplane, I was already wondering how I would share with my wife what I’d experienced during the week. I decided it was better to give up, as it was something that couldn’t be shared.

Camerimage is a voyage of initiation when you go for the first time, and an annual pilgrimage once you’re a member of the cult ; no matter who you speak to or by whom you are spoken to, so long as they’ve got that badge around their neck, you can be sure that you’ll find something to say to one another, some topic of conversation, no matter your possibly great difference in age or culture. I’ve made friends there (Edu Grau, the young Catalan cinematographer I met by chance in the car that was driving me to Bydgoszcz two years ago and whom I still see from time to time), I’ve reconnected with old friends with whom I’d lost touch for too long (Pascal Lagriffoul), I’ve maintained friendly relations that would otherwise be lost because they’re made of brief transatlantic moments (Caroline Champetier, Nathalie Durand), I’ve had brilliant technical discussions (I can’t mention them all by name), and I’ve met people whom I hope to see again in one way or another very soon (Claude Mouriéras, Lucy Allwood, Jim Stark), and every morning I went to bed (a bit tipsy) happy that the next morning I’d get to live through one more day of Camerimage.

(Translated from French by Alexander Baron-Raiffe on behalf of the AFC)