BYDGOSZCZ, Poland – British director Stephen Daldry paid tribute to the cinematographers who he had worked alongside, when he accepted the excellence in directing award at the opening ceremony on Saturday of the 22nd edition of Camerimage, a festival in Poland devoted to the art of cinematography.

“It has been my privilege to work with some extraordinary cinematographers in my career. First of all Brian Tufano, who held my hand and told me what to do and what not to do on ‘Billy Elliot,’” Daldry said.

He went on to list the “wonderful” Seamus McGarvey on “The Hours,” and the “legendary” Chris Menges on “The Reader” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

Daldry picked up Academy Award nominations in the director category for “Billy Elliot,” “The Hours” and “The Reader,” making him the only director to be nominated in this category for his first three films.

He finished by honoring the cinematographer on his most recent film, “Trash,” the “brilliant” Brazilian director of photography Adriano Goldman.

“Adriano had a singular vision which he maintained throughout, often in very difficult circumstances. He had a generosity and patience with our three young inexperienced non-professional actors, who were at the heart of the film,” he said.

“But perhaps most importantly he was pivotal in helping me understand the story that we were trying to tell. We thought we were telling a story about a young person’s action adventure film, but we ended up making a film about friendship, faith and determination. Friendship, faith and determination – what else could you possibly ask for from your cinematographer. Adriano, this award is yours as well as mine,” he said.

After watching the reel depicting his career highlights, British actor-director Alan Rickman, who received the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award during the opening ceremony, joked: “I think it might be called the Over-Acting Award, looking at some of those clips.”

He went on: “This is a very special honor because it carries the name of Krzysztof Kieslowski, who is a real hero of mine. It goes back to when I was an art student watching ‘A Short Film About Killing’ and ‘The Double Life of Veronique’ — that was just at the beginning. And these are times when you know that your mind is being rearranged. He taught me that you can be rigorous and patient. That politics and spirit can exist in the same frame. So this award will always be something to be lived up to.”

Rickman added that his second film as director, “A Little Chaos,” was screening at the fest on Sunday, and that cinematographer Ellen Kuras — best known for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” — had been “glued to my side” during the shoot.

“(The film) might seem a million miles away from Kieslowski, but, believe me, I know the size of the debt,” he said.

Kim Longinotto, whose credits include “Divorce Iranian Style,” “Sisters in Law” and “Rough Aunties,” which was the winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize, was honored with the Camerimage award for outstanding achievement in documentary filmmaking.

“The Imitation Game” and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” played as part of the festival’s opening gala.

The ceremony was kicked off by festival director Marek Zydowicz, who said that when he was walking to the main venue, Opera Nova Congress Center, he had noticed the lack of political posters for upcoming elections.

“I then saw a huge crowd in front of the entrance of the Opera Nova, and I started thinking that where politics takes second place, culture rises in terms of relevance, and when politics grows in importance, the importance of human-beings usually diminishes,” he said.

“It is probably no coincidence that it is here at this festival that every year I see so many smiling faces of young people and film professionals alike, who are able to make their dreams come true and to come here with so many diverse dreams that they would like to accomplish.

“If we were able to combine those two worlds, one would be able to have a great agenda for the next team of leaders both in this city and the region, and we would not then have had the kind of problem that I faced only last night.”

He explained that an actress had wanted to attend the festival, but he had to turn her away because of the relatively small size of the Opera Nova in comparison with the number of people who wanted to attend the festival. The festival had sold out weeks ago. She had replied that as festival director Zydowicz was like God: “You can do anything you like,” she said.

He continued: “I said to myself: Well perhaps that is the case to some degree, but the ability to multiply the number of seats at this venue, I don’t have.”

He added that there were more than a thousand students attending the festival, who would benefit if it had a larger venue, but that it depended on the residents and political leaders of the city and region to make a bigger site available.

He said 2,700 films were submitted for consideration, and 348 films were being screened. There were 50 workshops and 200 press conferences planned, as well as seminars and other events.

“What we talk about here is the art of cinema without the pressure of the marketplace, and that is what attracts so many people here from all over the world,” he said.