Flashback on Camerimage 2016

By Richard Andry, AFC

by Richard Andry AFC newsletter n°270

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When, last year, I arrived at Camerimage, I was carrying with me the painful trauma of the attacks perpetrated two days earlier in the streets of Paris. This year, I came with the sadness of just having lost Raoul Coutard, a teacher and a friend. But I was welcomed with an equivalent dose of warmth by our foreign counterparts and especially by Ed Lachman, ASC, and Dick Pope, BSC, both of whom are colleagues and friends.

With them, I was able to have long discussions about the important contribution Raoul made to cinematography via his now-classic personal style (classic was an adjective used by Michael Chapman, ASC, during a conversation Nathalie Durand and I had after the Q&A session that followed the screening of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull – seeing it on the big screen improves the mood). We’d already written about this in the daily newsletter sent from Camerimage every night by Jean-Noël Ferragut, AFC, and I recommend that you read the text read by Dick Pope, BSC, at the festival’s closing ceremony.
The festival didn’t have much to say this year about his passing and we hope that next year, Raoul’s work will be honoured in the same way that of two others was this year, namely Haskel Wexler, ASC, and Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, who, as I remember it, both spoke openly of the way they were influenced by the French New Wave.

Happily, Camerimage is not just a temple of homilies to the dead, but such homilies do indeed help us to anchor the evolution of our profession in the history of cinema (don’t forget to visit the rich retrospective entitled “Voyage to the Heart of the Cinema Machine” currently showing at the French Cinematheque) and give rise to very intense discussions. There are lots of occasions for this: workshops, master classes, formal and informal discussions about the current state and the future of the profession, personal experiences, presentation of equipment with wonderful “one-(wo)man-shows” on technique, screenings, while enjoying a coffee break or a shot of vodka during a party.
It’s always sad to say that thirty years ago, all this used to take place in Chalon and now we have to go to Bydgoczsz in Poland, but we ought not to have let this slip through our fingers and, in passing, I am still hopeful that we might be able to organize an annual event in France that is focused on the art of film imagery, as France is the cradle of photography, and the homeland of Niepce and the Lumière Brothers. This reminds us that we must remain alert in order to preserve the personality and the originality of both our art and our social model from the great globalizing melting pot, while remaining open to the outside world.

The AFC participated in two Master Classes, the first on the Panasonic VariCam, presented by Luc Bara and chaired by Philippe Ros, AFC, and Antoine Héberlé, AFC. Philippe presented a lovely black-and-white piece shot outdoors at night without an IR filter, and Antoine commented impressive scenes from Stéphane Brizé’s latest film Une vie. The event was as much about art as it was about technology, it was well-structured, and highlighted the organizers’ characteristic humour. Technology and technique, but with French flair.
As concerns our now-traditional AFC Master Class, supported by Angénieux and Panavision, this year it featured speakers Michel Abramowicz, Nathalie Durand, and Romain Lacourbas, masterfully moderated by Benjamin B., and was very successful and garnered the approval of many attendees. I invite you to read the summary I published of the event in the Camerimage daily newsletter.

The AFC was also represented in competition through Michel Abramowicz, AFC, whose work on Past Life, by Israeli director Avi Nesher, was warmly applauded. In this film, Michel successfully and handily expressed the atmosphere of a complicated dramatic storyline within the aesthetics of the 1970s in Israel and Eastern Europe, despite the constraints of a small budget.
The AFC’s presence was reinforced by two well-known films in the European Panorama section: The Innocents (DoP Caroline Champetier, AFC) and Cézanne and I (DoP Jean-Marie Dreujou, AFC).
Without forgetting Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond, presented in the presence of its director Pierre Filmon. The DoPs on this film were Marie Spencer, AFC, Olivier Chambon, AFC, James Chressantis, ASC, and Luca Coassin, AIC. Vilmos was a regular at Camerimage and he was dearly missed.

On the technical side, our associate members were also well-represented. Every morning there was a little espresso served by Angénieux, which this year was showing its very broad range of different zoom lenses: the Optimo Anamorphics, including the new and impressive 44-440 A2S, the Optimo Sphericals, the Optimo Styles, and the new EZ series. A sizeable range of products covering all areas, all formats, and now, I would even say, all budgets.
Angénieux sponsored the attendance of four students from La fémis’ image department, and we were able to speak with them during a very nice dinner. Transvideo, along with K5600, invited the students of the new National Cinema School in Lyon, la Ciné Fabrique, and hosted another very nice dinner so we could discuss. These students enthusiastically attended both Master Classes.

As for lenses, we were very spoilt and totally felt how important these little jewels have become in the digital era. It was like being on Place Vendôme the choices were so numerous. Angénieux, Arri, Cooke, Fujinon, Hawk, Leitz, Panavision all make available to us real treasures for every type of sensor. I can’t discuss here each one of these little marvels, nor recount my long and instructive discussions with Alexander Bscheidl of Vantage-Hawk, Tomaso Vergallo of Leitz, Dan Sasaki, aka The Wizard of Lenses, of Panavision after his magisterial “optico-philosophical” presentation on the Panavision range of lenses on the big screen. The Panavision show was rounded off by the presentation of the new Millenium DXL camera with an 8K sensor that you will be able to get to know in Paris at Panavision Alga’s open house on 8 December.
Note that during this wonderful demonstration, Michael Cioni, in charge of Light Iron, Panavision’s software department, presented the Foolcolor application designed by our colleague Mikael Lubtchansky. This application will be featured at the next Micro Salon. Lee Filters, our faithful sponsor for all of the AFC’s events, was presenting its latest range of Cine-Filters developed in collaboration with Panavision, as well as a clever range of filtering accessories for DSLRs. They will also be presented at the Micro Salon.

Last but not least (we are going in the opposite order of the alphabet here), our partner Arri, as usual, had an enormous presence at the event both in terms of the equipment on display but also in terms of event organization. Natasza Chroscicki, Natacha Vlatkovic, and Stephen Schenck, as indefatigable as always, took us from one very instructive Arri Academy Master Class entitled “Innovation and Creativity in the Modern Action” (basically, how to get the most out of camera and lighting technologies), to another, hosted by Paul Cameron, ASC, “Fearless Cinematography in a Sublime Age,” or how to capture audacious lighting and looks using modern tools. There were also many presentations around the prestigious Alexa 65. For those who weren’t in Poland, a catch-up session on the Arri and the Codex Workshop will be held on 7-8 December at La Compagnie (see details on our website).

As for lighting, DMG Lumière was presenting the big brother to their famous SL1, the maxi Switch (bi-colour technology): dimensions 120x75x2cm and 480W of power per colour. Available early 2017.
K5600 was in attendance, as every year, and Sébastien Barbedienne stood in for Marc Galerne, who had to return to France to present a range of products at the Satis that we will introduce to you at a later date. Ke was presenting a kit of two 200W – Alpha and Joker – as well as the Alpha 800, the latest product in the range.

I’ve surely forgotten names and events, and I’d advise you to reread the daily “lives” from the AFC that were compiled and paginated by Jean-Noël Ferragut, AFC, who didn’t count his hours spent on this task, as well as the rich articles and interviews by François Reumont.

(Translated from French by Alexander Baron-Raiffe)