Being a film director is often compared to conducting a large symphony orchestra before and during an important concert; each group of instruments, each individual artist, has to deliver their best because otherwise the overall performance will be missing something. Going further with this analogy, the director-conductor has to make sure that all the members of his crew-orchestra are in good shape, and lead them in such a way to make the best out of each piece, as well as simultaneously inspire them to give a bit of their own personality to the music they play. If something goes wrong, if several or even one of the elements fail, the conductor, as a leader, has to take most of the blame. If, however, everything goes according to plan, all the crew members will rise to the occasion, and the director will find the courage to make the project his own, the team’s effort will almost always result in something quite special, maybe even a work of art. Only the greatest filmmakers fully understand this unique dependence and are able to spin it for their own benefit – it is therefore our great pleasure to announce that one of such filmmakers will come to Bydgoszcz for the 22nd edition of the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography CAMERIMAGE.
Philip Kaufman, distinguished American director and screenwriter, one of the most brilliant filmmakers working in the field of literature adaptations, artist who is not afraid to supplement genre features with deeper analyses of the human condition, will be presented with Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award for Directing.
Philip Kaufman; Philip Kaufman Archive
Philip Kaufman fell in love with movies when he was a young boy; and later he was particularly fascinated with the new wave of European films of the 1960s that had been turning the expectations of American audiences of that time upside down. Together with his wife Rose and son Peter, they moved to Europe and began writing a novel which became his first screenplay: after his return to the United States, he made his first feature, Goldstein. The film shared the Cannes Film Festival Prix de la Nouvelle Critique with Bertolucci'sPrima Della Rivoluzione in 1964. The famous director Jean Renoir said Goldstein was “the best American film I have seen in 20 years.” His next independent film, perhaps the first with a comic book hero, was Frank's Greatest Adventure. It was shot by Bill Butler. Based on this film, he was given the opportunity to make his revisionist Western The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid for Universal with Robert Duvall delivering a captivating performance as the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Next, Kaufman lived for many months with the Inuit (Eskimo) people in the Arctic and made The White Dawn (his first collaboration with cinematographer Michael Chapman). But it was only after his next film, the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a re-imagining of the 1956 Don Siegel film, that he made himself a household name around the globe.
Still from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"
Still from "The Right Stuff"
Kaufman's allegorical, symbolic and truly disturbing Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as well as a breakthrough film for the American director. Not only was the atmosphere, which he created with the help of Michael Chapman, so intense that many viewers could not take it emotionally, but also this film was the one that finally shaped Kaufman as a truly defiant and rebellious filmmaker, in a strictly positive sense of those words. The following year he made The Wanderers (also shot by Michael Chapman) which became a true classic for young audiences of that time. Next came The Right Stuff, shot with cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. Kaufman's artistic vision made The Right Stuff a gripping, suspenseful and utterly funny exploration of an ineffable, indefinable quality of heroism in the face of almost certain death (as Hemingway defined it "grace under pressure") that was the opposite of the lifestyle magazines that were being sold to the public at the time. The Right Stuff was recently inducted into the National Film Registry. His subsequent film The Unbearable Lightness of Being (shot by Sven Nykvist) was a beautifully cinematic adaptation of the novel that had been considered unfilmable, and at the same time a sexually frank and philosophically intriguing story of difficult love on the crossroads of history and politics.
Still from "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"
Still from "Quills"
Similarly masterful was his film, shot by Philippe Rousselot, Henry & June, based on the memoirs of Anaïs Nin, which became infamous for becoming the first picture in American history with NC-17 age category rating, as well as Quills (shot by Rogier Stoffers) in which Geoffrey Rush magnificently played the notorious Marquis De Sade. Philip Kaufman is never afraid of going into the heat of controversy, and he always speaks his mind in terms of how he sees the world. That is also why Quills is also a moving cinematic contemplation on the boundaries of artistic freedom and double moral standards of society. His most recent film, Hemingway & Gellhorn for HBO, is a turbulent love story between the two famous writers. The path that Philip Kaufman has been traveling for the past 50 years since the premiere of Goldstein has been challenging at times (as when he wrote the script for Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales but didn't end up as the director of the film) and also positively surprising (for example, it was Kaufman who had written the story for Raiders of the Lost Ark with George Lucas). Over the years he has worked with many great actors such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine, Sean Connery (Rising Sun, again with Michael Chapman), Samuel L. Jackson, Ashley Judd, and Andy Garcia (Twisted which was shot by Peter Deming).
However, never has this year's recipient of Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award for Directing gone off that path; on each set he became a wonderful conductor of his film orchestras, and with every subsequent film he tried to start an honest and open dialogue with his viewers. We are extremely proud that a filmmaker of such stature as Philip Kaufman will soon become a member of the Camerimage family.