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Polish Filmmaking Has the Right Stuff, Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel Says

Poland's movie biz is now producing films in a wide range of genres, including thrillers like 'Jack Strong'

Polish Filmmaking Has the Right Stuff,

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland — Polish filmmakers are punching above their weight, according to six-times Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, who heads the jury weighing six of Poland’s most visually engaging pics at the Camerimage film festival this week in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The films in the Polish competition, ranging from a tale of alcoholic obsession in “Hardkor Disko” to the story of a real-life Cold War superspy, “Jack Strong,” show impressive camera mastery, says Deschanel, whose credits include “The Right Stuff,” “The Natural” and “The Patriot.”

One likely reason is that filmmakers now have far wider digital access to great films that inspire and inform them, he says.

“I’ve really noticed over the last couple of years there’s been this extraordinary explosion of talent of young cinematographers throughout the world. I think the availability of films that could be studied — the access to all the information and about how things are shot — has really made that possible,” he says.

Just as importantly, Deschanel adds, the range of film subjects and moods in current Polish fare is wider than many realize.

“This year there are actually a couple of comedies,” he says. “My memory is of a lot of great Polish films that have always been quite serious and, you know, heavy in atmosphere.”

One such Polish film, marked by upbeat absurdism, “Kebab & Horoscope,” helmed by Grzegorz Jaroszuk and lensed by John Magnus Borge, has been making the fest rounds this year, gathering interest.

Others, such as Urszula Antoniak’s “Nude Area,” lensed by Piotr Sobocinski Jr., take on weighty social issues, such as immigration-fed tensions and conservative sexual mores.

The pics themselves are likely to be seen digitally on a host of platforms, informing still more emerging filmmakers, of course.

As for how Deschanel deals with the issue of where his work will be seen, he quips, “I always shoot for iPhones.”