Imago celebrates its thirtieth anniversary in Rome, 24-25 March 2023

By Richard Andry, AFC

by Richard Andry Contre-Champ AFC n°341

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Luciano Tovoli, AIC, spearheaded the creation of Imago, the European Federation of Cinematographers Societies, in 1992. Its original constituent societies were four European cinematographers’ societies: AIC (Italy), AFC (France), BSC (Great Britain), BVK (Germany). In 2023, it was renamed the International Federation and now has 54 member societies. The thirtieth anniversary celebration took place simultaneously with Imago’s Annual General Assembly (IAGA) in Rome, Imago’s birthplace. I was invited to represent the AFC at this event.

I hadn’t attended an Imago General Assembly (IAGA) in ten years. The last time I was there was in Brussels in 2013, and I was serving as one of Imago’s vice presidents at the time. The AFC was being represented by Eric Guichard at that time. After that Assembly in Brussels, because the AFC was in such disagreement with the decisions being taken by the leadership, the AFC left imago in spite of all the hard work I had put in as the successor to Robert Alazraki, AFC, one of the Federation’s "founding fathers". I will spare my readers the details of the dramas and power struggles that we observed as outsiders until 2019, when we rejoined Imago, which by then had become an international organization. Since 1992, the path toward the building of a federation of cinematographers’ societies has always been chaotic, because of the extreme resistance presented by human nature when it has to participate with others, all equal in rights, and in full transparency, in building a shared house.

So, since 2019, the AFC has returned to Imago and is now represented on the Board by our friend Denis Lenoir and our other good friend Eric Guichard, who is the financial controller. We all know how rigorous Eric is when it comes to finances, which guarantees balance and transparency. The new president, Mustapha Barat, ABC (Brazil), seems very likeable, humble, and very open-minded, charismatic and calm, he seems to radiate a quiet strength that, I am sure, will allow him to handle the many matters that will soon clamor for his attention. He is supported by two dynamic and strong-willed Vice Presidents: Bojana Andric, SAS (Serbia) and Adriana Bernal Martinez, ADFC (Colombia). Alex Linden, FSF (Sweden) is as efficient as he is discreet and he admirably carried out his role of General Secretary throughout the IAGA, which was quite a tiring task. Marcela Bourseau, ABC, was elected treasurer. This is a great team, with full gender parity, which seems to inspire serenity and trust.

Mustapha Barat, ABC, center, President, surrounded by some Board Members - Photo by Edvard Friis Moeller, DFF
Mustapha Barat, ABC, center, President, surrounded by some Board Members
Photo by Edvard Friis Moeller, DFF
Eric Guichard in action - Photo by Richard Andry
Eric Guichard in action
Photo by Richard Andry

On the first day of the IAGA, the usual votes were held on the past accounts and the future budgets, and presentations were made by various committees: education, technical, authorship, working conditions, diversity and inclusion, all of whom presented their plans and ambitions and their budgetary requests (rather extravagant, it would seem). It was all a bit soporific.
Then, a board member, our colleague Steven Fierberg, ASC, enlivened our discussions by asking the existential question: at the present time, what are the goals Imago is pursuing? Might it not be opportune to redefine its goals?
This would allow us to better focus our energies and actions.
In a word: Why Imago? Joining action to words: Steven quickly made a written proposal, which is intended to be fleshed out, listing Imago’s missions. What a great guy!
I am placing this list at the end of this article, so you can think about it and participate in the debate.

Oleksandr Khryshtalovych, UGC, representing the Ukranian Association, was warmly applauded as he presented the living and working conditions of his colleagues in wartime and denounced the pro-war position of the Russian Association RGC. He promised to show us documents proving their pro-war stance.
Oleksandr is a refugee in France and he asked us for help.

On the second day, at the Cinecittà, in the prestigious Palazzina Fellini, the 30th anniversary celebration was held. Sponsors had organized a Mini Salon where they were exhibiting their equipment: Sebastian Leske and Florence Quintin, for Sony, and Jean de Montgrand and Alexandre Boulay, for Rosco DMG.
Amongst the many attendees at this event, we noticed Vittorio Storaro and many AIC colleagues who had come together to pay tribute to Luciano Tovoli. Following a moving speech and the screening of a film presenting the major milestones in his career, trophies were awarded to the representatives of the founding associations. Chris Ross, president of the BSC, and myself, representing the AFC, each gave a short speech. I remembered that on the group photo we took thirty years ago, there was our dearly departed friend Jacques Loiseleux and our dear Eduardo Serra. I saluted them and honored them, but forgot to mention my great pal Robert Alazraki, who was present in Rome that day in 1992, but wasn’t on the group photo. Please forgive me, Robert. I was overcome by emotion.

Luciano Tovoli at the Palazzina Fellini - Photo by Edvard Friis Moeller, DFF
Luciano Tovoli at the Palazzina Fellini
Photo by Edvard Friis Moeller, DFF

To conclude: a wind of youth and freshness, but also rigor and ambition, is blowing on Imago. There are some dinosaurs left, but a new generation is coming up and pushing through. I would advise the young members of the AFC to become more enthusiastically interested in Imago.

Imago’s Missions

1. An International Organization

2. Members:
a. Promote camaraderie amongst the societies across the globe.
b. Promote unity between filmmakers across the globe.
c. Promote diversity and inclusion amongst cinematographers.
d. Provide cinematographers "convivial" occasions to meet and socialize.

3. Prestige and exaltation of cinematographic art:
a. Promote the VALUE of cinematography to directors, producers and audiences.
b. Promote the authorship of images, insofar as possible
c. Right to color correction, both before original release and every time the project is resynchronized/restored.
d. Right to participate in VFX and building the "world" in preproduction.
e. Encourage festivals to include cinematography in their awards.

4. Creativity and Artistic Talent:
Create a "Salon" like the painters’ salon in Paris in the early 20th century: a forum for filmmakers, who often work isolated from one another. A space where we can share our work and our ideas. Where we can learn from one another and mutually inspire one another.

5. Technical:
a. Explore, evaluate and develop tools used for filmmaking.
b. Evaluate and promote the best norms for home viewing and theatrical screening.
c. Communicate these discoveries to our membership, students and the entire world.

6. Create a better world:
a. Informational resources for students from different horizons and from all regions of the world.
b. Train a broad spectrum of students.
c. Promote better working conditions.

7. Finances:
a. Earn enough money to make this space work.
b. Website
c. Publications and books
d. Master Classes.