Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival


This year’s Camera 300 Competition continues in our tradition of strong and high-quality selection of films from the latest world production and in order to make sure that these really are the 12 best and most authoritatively rooted films, the selection is once again inevitably based on the festivals in Berlin, Cannes and last year’s Venice. We continue to combine films originating from countries across the world; Europe is still quite dominant, but we have 3 excellent representatives of the other continents – Asia with two films, one from China and South Korea each, and one irresistibly from USA. The films intertwine in terms of co-production which leads to combinations of directors and cinematographers who do not belong to the same national cinemas, but this serves to prove the universal nature of film language. We also have films from different generations of cinematographers, coming from small and big film productions and traditions, although the tried and true cinematographers dominate, i.e. our previous laureates that we are constantly bound to be focused on, yet we also strive to discover new names, more or less known, yet still quite new which are launched to their rightful international affirmation through our festival, by becoming winners of some of our awards.

Our previous laureate, who is featured in our competition for the second time, is the leading Israeli cinematographer Giora Bejach, who after the excellent and awarded film “Lebanon” which he made as a creative tandem with the director Samuel Maoz, comes back with their latest fi lm FOXTROT, which once again demonstrates his exceptionally expressive visual power, in a modern drama inevitably related to Israel’s military system. The Polish representative COLD WAR is another affirmation of the already established tandem, the experienced director Pawel Pawlikovski and the cinematographer Lukasz Zal, who after their previous Oscar-winning fi lm IDA (the cinematographer duo in IDA also included our Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement winner Riczhard Lenchewski together with the younger Zal) in the latest COLD WAR, once again shot in black and white photography, gives  Zal the chance to create new visual poetics within a historic setting which in all its cruelty is transformed into a love story about two young people.

Out of the other famous tandems, for the first time in our competition we feature the experienced German cinematographer Hans Fromm, who together with the leading German director Christian Petzold has built one of the rare consistent tandems in German cinema, this time with the film TRANSIT envisaged as an anti-utopia to the phenomenon of the wild, Orwellian neo-fascism on the grounds of modern Europe, the coupling of the police and the authorities persecuting the undesired refugees/migrants who are not allowed free movement. This Kafkaesque projection is painted by Fromm in such a masterful way that it instils the fear felt by the persecuted right into the bones of the audiences. The leading Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke, in his film ASH IS THE PUREST WHITE, in his own typical way creates a furious observation and parable of modern China, through a love story from the underground, and this is effectively made possible through the atmosphere built by one of the leading French cinematographers Eric Gautier. We encounter effective tandem cooperation for the second time with the Russian representative SUMMER between the director Kiril Serebrenikov and the cinematographer Vladislav Opeliants who dominantly, through black and white photography, and with sporadic color fl ashes in the style of the young aspiring rock-stars, evoke history through the story of liberation of the spirit and the individual at the time of the totalitarian reins of the Soviet communism, memories from the rock era as a global phenomenon which also touched Russia in a peculiar way as the then leading country of the Soviet Union.

An evocation of another era and the time of the rock icon and Andy Warhol’s muse, Nico, but focusing on the last two years of her cumbersome life as she was succumbing to addiction and losing her will for life, is presented in the excellent drama NICO by the tandem: writer/director Italian Susanna Nicchiarelli and the experienced French cinematographer Chrystel Fournier, who through her dark tones paints the bleak drama of the once adorable Nico, who is facing a self-destruction syndrome at the end of her career. The South Korean representative BURNING is an enchanting triangle between three young people in modern every-day life, a slightly bizarrely projected story by the experienced director Chang-dong LEE and visually masterfully built by the talented cinematographer Kyong-pyo Hong.

This year we also have the come-back of the always restless and rebellious fighter for the black cause, Spike Lee, who in his latest movie raises the issue of neo-racism in Trump’s America (America Great Again/America First!) though the black comedy about the unrelenting spirit of the Ku Klux Klan’s white supremacy in the fi lm BLACKKКLANSMAN which cinematographer Chayse Irvin depicts in a lively and dynamic manner, to the audiences’ delight as they project themselves in the phenomenon.

We discover new talents in the two films, the Bulgarian AGA, by the tandem director Milko Lazarov, who in getting closer to and effectively shooting the difficult arctic conditions of the story about Nanouk from the north of Russia, his wife and the daughter Aga who has left them, finds a crucial collaborator in the talented young cinematographer Kaloyan Bozhilov, as in fact in this particular case, everything is in the hands of the cinematographer – to get us closer to the impossible though a kind of poetics of the extreme cold, which makes you shiver as you watch this rarely seen family drama. The Belgian film GIRL uncovers the talent of the young writer/director Lukas Dhont telling us the drama of the teenage Lara who wants to be a ballerina and is torn by a personal conflict because although she feels like a girl, she is trapped in a boy’s body and this is effectively painted by the more experienced cinematographer Frank van den Eeden, particularly through the long cinematographic sequences of the dancing rehearsals strenuous to exhaustion of the super-talented actor Victor Polster, as Lara. Finally in the Czech fi lm WINTER FLIES we affirm another less-known, but very promising tandem: director Olmo Omerzu and cinematographer Lukas Milota (who has shot this director’s all three feature films), and in WINTER FLIES, in a lively comedic structure, he depicts the wacky but likable on-the-road-adventure of two teenagers, who travel in a stolen car through the modern Czech Republic without any sense of direction, and naturally, pursued by the police. 12th selected film in the Competition Camera 300, is the Swedish THE REAL ESTATE by the 36-year-old Mans Mansson, in the triple position as producer, co-director and most importantly cinematographer, so he himself impressively visualize the twisted world of a reach mid-age proprietor of the apartment building, transforming it in her confusion, when facing the social chaos of the urban Sweden.

Blagoja Kunovski – Dore
Artistic Director – Programmer