Sikora provides a painter’s sensibility on pics like ‘In the Shadow’

10 Cinematographers to Watch 2013: Adam Sikora

It’s not surprising to learn that Adam Sikora started off wanting to “be a painter and then a photographer” before focusing on the moving image.

“I’ve always studied light and shadow, and the way it creates an image, and it’s always inspired me,” says Sikora, who studied at the Polish Film School, which he describes as “a great school with great teachers.”

He got his start in TV working on films and documentaries as both d.p. and director, two disciplines for which he exhibits equal passion. His big break came when director Lech Majewski hired him to shoot the 1999 drama “Wojaczek,” “a very important job for me, as we went on to also make ‘Angelus,’ about painters, which was well-received,” he says.

Sikora shot another film about painting, the 2011 Pieter Bruegel drama “The Mill and the Cross,” with Majewski, and collaborated with director Jerzy Skolimowski on “Four Nights With Anna” and the 2010 thriller “Essential Killing” about an escaped Taliban soldier adrift in Europe, with its combination of hand-held and tracking shots, extreme close-ups and panoramic frames, and an overall palpable sense of extreme environments.

“Jerzy’s a great director and ‘Killing’ was another important film for me — but very difficult,” he says. “We shot one part in Poland, one part in Israel, which doubled for Afghanistan, and one part in Norway, which was freezing. And moving between all the locations wasn’t easy.”

For last year’s “In the Shadow,” a period drama that was the Czech Republic’s foreign-language Oscar entry, the d.p. teamed with director David Ondricek. “We went for a very ’50s film language and look,” says Sikora, who referenced “Hitchcock and noir” for his evocative, drab palette. “Gray was our basic color.”

The d.p. is prepping another drama titled “Love in a Garden City,” to be shot in Poland later this summer. “For me, images are not just about beauty,” he sums up, “but also meaning.”

Favorite tool: “Any light, because it’s so important for me in any film I do, whether it’s Tungsten or daylight lamps, or filters.”

Inspiration: “Sven Nykvist, the genius of light. For me, he’s the absolute master and the person who first inspired me and who always inspires me on every shoot.”

Representation : “I am my own.”