“Joker” cinematographer Lawrence Sher’s bid, along with director Todd Phillips, to try something “perhaps even a bit artful” won big Saturday in Torun, Poland as he took the top prize at the EnergaCamerimage Intl. Film Festival.

The Golden Frog for cinematography, along with the audience prize, went to his work filming Joaquin Phoenix in the dark origin story of Batman’s nemesis for its “dystopian storytelling” that “challenges us and unsettles us,” the jury said.

Sher quipped that such a gritty film from “the guys who made ‘The Hangover’ is not always expected.”

The fest wrapped in its new home, the historic city where it was first launched 27 years ago, after screenings of 188 films, most judged by some of 48 jurors in 10 competition categories.

The filming of cinematographer Cesar Charlone in Fernando Meirelles’ portrait of rivalry within the Vatican, “The Two Popes,” won the Silver Frog, while Vladimir Smutny’s “exquisite black and white photography” in war story “The Painted Bird,” directed by Vaclav Marhoul, won the Bronze Frog.

The star-studded Camerimage closing gala was marked by emotional comments from both lifetime achievement winner John Bailey and the performer whose career he helped form, Richard Gere, who was presented with the fest’s special award to an actor.

Citing their work together in 1978’s “Days of Heaven,” the Terrence Malick film on which Bailey was a camera operator, the veteran DP praised Gere for his “tremendous work” on screen and also “supporting human rights and civil rights around the world.”

Quentin Tarantino and his DP on five films, including “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Robert Richardson, were honored with the Camerimage director-cinematographer duo award, prompting Tarantino to thank his filming partner “from the bottom of my black heart” for lending his work “a visual sophistication I couldn’t even dream of achieving myself.”

Richardson responded by dubbing Tarantino a director whose “brain is fucking on fire,” adding, “Quentin, I love you.”

The winner of the Krzysztof Kieslowski award, Edward Norton, at Camerimage to screen “Motherless Brooklyn” in competition, also gave heartfelt thanks, noting that being given a prize named for a filmmaker he long admired was a great honor. Kieslowski’s films had taught Norton as a young “film geek” that cinema was “a global art,” not an “American popcorn experience,” he said, along with the importance of asking “what it means to be human and confront moral challenge.”

The Camerimage docu feature prize, for the filming and directing of Luke Lorentzen on “Midnight Family,” honored his “gripping depiction of a family struggling to survive” in the story of Mexican ambulance operators working under extreme duress.

The docudrama Golden Frog, for Holocaust love story “Marek Edelman… and There Was Love in the Ghetto,” went to cinematographers Jakub Kijowski and Jolanta Dylewska, the latter also directing, for “artfully blending past and present” in a story of “love, hope and courage” in the “cruelest circumstances.”

The fest’s Polish film winner, “Mister T.” lensed by Adam Bajerski and directed by Marcin Krzysztalowicz, was lauded for the “perfect visualization of a Kafka story based on historical facts.” The film, about a Polish language tutor living in Warsaw under Stalinist Soviet rule, takes on the question of survival for artists under oppression.



Main Competition 

Cinematography Golden Frog – Lawrence Sher – “Joker”

Cinematography Silver Frog – Cesar Charlone – “The Two Popes”

Cinematography Bronze Frog – Vladimir Smutny – “The Painted Bird”

Audience award – “Joker”

Polish film – “Mister T.” – Cinematographer Adam Bajerski; director Marcin Krzysztalowicz



Feature Golden Frog – “Midnight Family” Cinematographer/director Luke Lorentzen

Docudrama Golden Frog – “Marek Edelman… and There Was Love in the Ghetto”

Cinematographer Jakub Kijowski, Jolanta Dylewska; director Jolanta Dylewska

Documentary short – “Kamali” – Cinematographer Jake Gabbay; director Sasha Rainbow

Special Mention – “Oneself” – Cinematographer Christiaan van Leeuwen; director Carolien van Maaswaal

TV Pilot – “Euphoria” – Cinematographer Marcell Rev; director Augustine Frizzell

Director Debut – “Pacified” – Cinematographer Laura Merians; director Paxton Winters

Cinematographer Debut – “Pacified” – Cinematographer Laura Merians; director Paxton Winters

Music Video – James Massiah – “Natural Born Killer (Ride for Me)” – Cinematographer Mauro Chiarello; director Ian Pons Jewell

Cinematography in a Music Video – Jon Hopkins “Singularity” – Cinematographer Khalid Mohtaseb; director Seb Edwards


Student etudes

Golden Tadpole – “Lefty/Righty” – Cinematographer Alfonso Herrera Salcedo; director Max Walker-Silverman

NYU – Tisch School of the Arts

Silver Tadpole – “Mariam and Natan” – Cinematographer David Bajerski; director David Bajerski

Lodz Film School

Bronze Tadpole – “The Last Children in Paradise” – Cinematographer Felix Pflieger; director Anna Roller

Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film



“The Painted Bird” – Cinematographer Vladimir Smutny; director Vaclav Marhoul