CO-FINANCED BY: KUJAWSKO-POMORSKIE REGION, MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND NATIONAL HERITAGE FROM PROMOTION OF CULTURE FUND AND POLISH FILM INSTITUTE
JAN ROELFS WITH CAMERIMAGE AWARD TO PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Friday October 25th, 2019
Production design is basically everything – both tangible and virtual – that we see within the frame of any given moment of any given scene of any given movie; the objects surrounding the characters and quite often hiding important information about their personalities and passions; the surfaces and textures the cinematographers make look alluring, ugly, or artistically reflective according to the story’s requirements; the physical places the actors walk on and draw their emotional states from, or even the fancy world-building generated in collaboration with VFX magicians. In other words, production design is an extremely intricate world-building supervised by a professional who is – together with a cinematographer – the closest ally to the film’s director and his or her vision waiting to be carefully recreated on the screen. Throughout the previous twenty six editions of EnergaCAMERIMAGE International Film Festival, we awarded a number of distinguished production designers who had amazed the world with their intimate, sumptuous, or sophisticated creations. Needless to say, we are honored to announce that this year, in Toruń, our Award to Production Designer with Unique Visual Sensitivity will be presented to the two-time Academy Award® nominated Jan Roelfs.
While Roelfs is currently recognized for the spectacular set pieces he collaborated on with Justin Lin on Furious 6 (they presently work on another installment, Fast & Furious 9), creating the awe-inspiring futuristic designs of Rupert Sanders’s Ghost in the Shell, and bringing to a cinematic life the elaborate post-apocalyptic reality of Susanne Bier’s Bird Box, for many years he had been associated with Peter Greenaway’s artful and labyrinthine films of numerous layers and meaning incorporated in everything depicted on screen. For his work on the director’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover he was nominated for European Film Award. After leaving the Old Continent for America, Roelfs has found himself a trusted collaborator of a number of film auteurs – from Sally Potter and Oliver Stone to Andrew Niccol and Robert Redford – who needed a helping hand in giving their projects a distinct flavor. For instance, he gave Potter’s bold Orlando the feel of a neo-baroque spectacle for the ages, honed Niccol’s glamorous mathematical dystopia of Gattaca with elegant spatiality as well as architectural uniqueness, while in Stone’s Alexander Roelfs outdone himself in excruciatingly detailed and palpable visual representation of what Alexander the Great’s world might have looked like.
Nonetheless, the production designer’s cinematic oeuvre is also filled with various depictions of contemporary times which emphasize the great traumatic events and moral conundrums of modern age. In Redford’s Lions for Lambs Roelfs underscored through his exquisitely researched sets the toll the war in Afghanistan had taken on young Americans, as well as the emotional dimension of the divergent theoretical and practical understanding of what patriotism is about, while in Richard Shepard’s The Hunting Party he recreated the look and feel of various stages of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Not to mention Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center that would not have had its lasting impact without Roelfs’s reimagination of what struggling for survival under the dozens of tons of dust and rubble from the collapsed Twin Towers looked like. Needless to say, we are deeply affected by the multifaceted work of one of the world’s best production designers, as he has proven time and again to be more than capable of handling any film project of any director. We feel privileged he agreed to accept our award and thus join the Festival’s ever-expanding family. We sincerely hope that meeting with Jan Roelfs will bring all of this year’s participants many cherished moments and a better understanding of the many challenges relating to the field of feature film production design. See you in Toruń!