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Cinematographer Witold Sobociński, Lenser of ‘Frantic,’ Dies at 89

Polish cinematographer Witold Sobociński, who received a lifetime achievement award at the Camerimage film festival in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Nov. 10, died suddenly on Monday. He was 89.

Director Roman Polanski made a surprise appearance at Camerimage to present the honor to Sobociński. The duo collaborated on the 1988 Paris-set thriller “Frantic,” starring Harrison Ford and Emmanuelle Seigner, who is now the controversial helmer’s wife. They shared stories from film school in Poland under the communist regime.

Camerimage fest director Marek Zydowicz credited Sobocinski with influencing a whole new generation of cinematographers. The tribute included video of congratulations from Ron Howard and DP Janusz Kaminski.

Sobociński also shot “The Wedding” and the Oscar-nommed “The Promised Land,” both directed by Andrzej Wajda. In addition, he worked with Piotr Szulkin (1985’s “O-Bi, O-Ba – The End of Civilization”), and Wojciech Jerzy Has (1973’s “The Hourglass Sanatorium”).

The lenser was also honored in 2003 by the American Society of Cinematographers with its International Award for outstanding achievement in cinematography.

In addition to working as a cinematographer, Sobociński was a teacher and a former jazz musician. He was a graduate of Poland’s National Film School in Lodz and while in college he was a drummer in a band.

In statement, Camerimage wrote, “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Witold Sobociński’s family and friends… To all film lovers around the world we say, remember him like we do, not in black and white, but in full color.”

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