The winner of the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD GOLDEN CAMERA 300 at the 37 edition of the International Cinematographers Film Festival Manaki Brothers 2016, is the Dutch cinematographer:
Robby Müller, BVK/NSC
Robby Müller 's connection with the Manaki Brothers' Festival, at the 37 edition, in 2016, is symbolic in the sense that it marks the 20 anniversary from the first time when Robby Müller participated at the 17 Festival edition in 1996 with the film BREAKING THE WAVES (depicting in a color photography this exceptional psycho-moral drama of the tragic love of a girl whose lover will sustain a serious injury leaving him permanently disabled and unable to make love and have a normal life) creating this masterpiece in a creative tandem with director Lars Von Trier, which earned him the well-deserved Bronze Camera 300. They were featured as a tandem once again in the competition of the 21 MANAKI BROTHERS Festival, with another great film - DANCER IN THE DARK (once again color photography and cinema aesthetic which he builds into an unusual proletarian musical, in interiors with heavy machinery and exteriors on cargo train platforms, with Bjork and Deneuve as dancers, in an original dramaturgic and visual atmosphere).
On this occasion, as a detail from our joint history and as a part of this retrospective reminiscence, I must inevitably present the moment of my, in fact, first indirect contact with Robby Müller. Namely, it was back when I selected his film BREAKING THE WAVES for the main competition, which naturally implied an invitation for him to be our guest in Bitola, as a cinematographer-participant in the competition, he replied with an honest, friendly letter in his handwriting and signed by him, which we printed as a facsimile in the catalogue of the 17th edition held in 1996. In it, the upper part of the letter states: from Robby Müller to Blagoja Kunovski. It proceeds as follows:
"-Dear Mr. Kunovski,
Thank you for your invitation. I truly am flattered. The reason for my late reply is my work which is also the reason for my absence.
I am really sorry I won't be able to accept your invitation, due to previously scheduled obligations which I already started before I received your invitation.
That's why, once again, I thank you for the invitation! - And may your festival be a successful and exciting experience for my colleagues in Macedonia!
Robby Müller with the remaining members of the jury, and another one, where then-director Tomi Salkovski presents the award to Robby Müller at the special cocktail, while in my personal collection I have saved, as a dear memorabilia, his color portrait photo, in which Mr. Robby Müller, with the smile and joyfulness typical for him, proudly holds the Special Golden Camera 300.
- When it comes to Robby Müller's opus, it contains over 80 films (together with the shorts from the start of his career and then the mainly long-feature films, as well as the 15-odd TV films) and there would have been many more if he had not been prevented by a grave neurological disease, which has intensified since 2010, and his lovely spouse, Andrea Müller informed me about that. They met for the first time, as Andrea recalls, back in 1990 and have been married since 1993, with her proceeding to accompany him on, quite often on set, while she herself, as an art historian and great connoisseur of his Polaroid photographs, went on to sign the introductory notes in 2 books about Robby’s Polaroids published under the titles Exterior and Interior).
Due to this vis-major circumstances, Robby Muller will not be able to personally come to Bitola on 10 September, at the ceremony where he will be declared Laureate of the 37 edition of the Manaki Brothers, but, as a first part in the celebration of the greatness of this artist, I and our Artistic Director Gena Teodosievska - at the invitation of the prestigious cultural center/museum of video and film art - EYE, Amsterdam, which over the summer, June, July and August featured (as a network of video installations projected onto 20 screens in various dimensions, with excerpts from his films and interviews about Robby's collaboration with Wenders, Jarmusch, Trier, Hoyte van Hoytema, Steve McQueen) a retrospective exhibition dedicated to the opus of one of the greatest Dutch and international cinematographers - on the 3 June attended the opening of the exhibition titled MASTER OF LIGHT - ROBBY MÜLLER, when I presented him with the LIFETIME ACHIVEMENT GOLDEN CAMERA 300 AWARD.
Otherwise, Robby Müller's greatness and artistry as a cinematographer with an astonishing creative potential is reflected in the fact that he, like very few other people in the history of world cinema art, has collaborated with a multitude of leading directors, co-creating their films in visual and cinematic terms and contributing to their becoming anthological titles of the seventh art. The names of these great directors that Robby Müller has collaborated with, speak loudly enough for themselves: Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Lars von Trier (as the most significant and greatest directors' trio in his output), followed by Edgar Reitz (DIE REISE NACH WIEN, 1973), Peter Handke (THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN, 1977), Jerry Schatzberg (ON THE ROAD AGAIN, 1979), Peter Bogdanovich ( SAINT JACK, 1979 - in which Robby has a cameo himself, along with Bogdanovich himself and the actor Gazara and THEY ALL LAUGFHED, 1980), William Friedkin (TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. 1984), John Schlesinger (THE BELIEVERS, 1986), Barbet Schroeder (BARFLY, 1987), Roberto Benigni (THE LITTLE DEVIL, 1987), Andrzej Wajda (KORCZAK, 1989), Sally Potter (THE TANGO LESSONS, 1996), Michael Winterbottom, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, 2001). He has collaborated with director Steve McQueen twice, directly in 2001 in the realization of the specific 29 + 12 minute CARIB'S LEAP, shot on a Super 8 and 35mm and then transferred to video, and McQueen in 2014 transfers the footage short by Robby Müller on Super 8 in 2001 in the 10-minute video installation ASHES.
- However, from the very start of his career, Robby Müller together with Wim Wenders have created their joint tandem opus as the most significant for them as artists. Both of them just starting out as filmmakers, they met in 1968 and made the 22-minute short feature ALABAMA: 2000 LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME, which Robby shot in his, from the very beginning, favourite black and white photography, which he uses again the following year for their first long feature film SUMMER IN THE CITY on 16mm.
According to the script of another friend from their generation - like-mind Peter Handke, the tandem Wenders-Müller in 1971 created their first color film THE GOALKEEPER’s FEAR OF THE PENALTY and they go back to the already established formula for on-the-road films with ALICE IN THE CITIZES (1973), which Robby shot once again in black and white and on 16mm which was later blown-up to 35mm). This first film from on-the-road trilogy with a recognizable structure was followed by the next two films: WRONG MOVE (1974 color) and KINGS OF THE ROAD (1975, black and white). Later on, from their early phase, we also have their cult film THE AMERICAN FRIEND (1976) which Robby shot in color with accentuated effects typical for him, which will continue to be a characteristic of his entire career as a master of lighting and photography functioning as a plot device in the narration, which is visible in this important film made under the influence of the American genre of film-noir, based on Patricia Highsmith's novel, launching the tandem of actors Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz. The crown in their joint career is the masterpiece which won the Palm d'Or at Cannes in 1984, PARIS, TEXAS, which, after a break of 7 years, was a continuation of the majestic demonstration of visual-color expression and use of light by Robby Müller, regardless of whether shot in an exterior (the opening scene, a wide shot taken from a helicopter in a desert, in which Müller immediately demonstrated his mastery as a cinematographer - what is typical of his understanding and practicing of this work is that he does not distinguish between being a camera operator and a cinematographer when it comes to himself), or interior. In continuation of the starting sequence, the returnee into his own life, Travis, dwells on the happy memories from his family life (in the excellent and inspiring creation, and once-in-a-lifetime role of actor Harry Dean Stanton), appears/steps into the frame, with his back to the camera, into the desert which opens up in front of him as a vast challenge. With the threateningly bold, heavy colors of the desert setting, and the symbolic of the billboard inscribed with "PARIS, TEXAS", as a nameless person coming from nowhere to start his odyssey/adventure in quest of his lost identity, to find his lost brother, and then his son Hunter and the young, previously abandoned by him, wife Jane (an also inspiring performance by Nastassja Kinski, shot in an interior, dressed in a blood-red sweater, as another anthological trademark of Müller's visual expression). Müller and Wenders once again reaffirmed their joint mastery as a tandem in the long documentary, the music film BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB (1998), which Robby Müller, as a coordinator of cinematography shot with a group of colleagues on music stages in Amsterdam, New York and Cuba.
Apart from the already mentioned creative collaboration with Lars Von Trier, in the 2 cult films mentioned at the very beginning, Robby Müller has also achieved significant collaboration with the leading independent American author, Jim Jarmusch, in the also already cult films: DOWN BY LAW (1985, black and white featuring the excellent Roberto Benigni in the main role, with whom he would also work later as a cinematographer in the LITTLE DEVIL), MYSTERY TRAIN (1988, color), DEAD MAN (1994, return to black and white), and GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI (1988, another highly effective color film). When it comes to what kind of photography to apply to a film, whether black and white or color, as an essential aspect of his visual expression and functioning to enhance the film's plotline, Müller explains very clearly: "I always have a sort of a "mental exercise" with the director. -'Why not black and white? Or why not color?' then, after we elaborate it to ourselves, we know what to pay attention to, because if you're making films like I'm making, in general, then color can give out too much information..."
Finally, I would like to conclude, with the artistic expression in his most significant films and the collaboration with the leading world directors, Robby Müller enters the list of the top 10 best world cinematographers of all times, making our Festival - the Manaki Brothers, very proud to have this great cinematographer as the latest member in our CLUB OF THE GREATS.