CO-FINANCED BY: KUJAWSKO-POMORSKIE REGION, MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND NATIONAL HERITAGE FROM PROMOTION OF CULTURE FUND AND POLISH FILM INSTITUTE
CAMERIMAGE 2018 CINEMATOGRAPHER – DIRECTOR DUO AWARD
Wednesday September 19th, 2018
Film is an art of storytelling based on making dozens of compromises, therefore one of the most important aspects of any filmmaker’s career is having relationships with storytellers of similar tastes and visual sensibilities. The aim is, obviously, to work in such a way that nothing seems to be a compromise but rather a part of an organic process towards achieving the same goal. Throughout the years, Camerimage Film Festival awarded numerous distinguished cinematographer-director partnerships; duos who were able to influence and enhance each other’s visions and efforts to craft memorable images that would have been beyond the reach of less experienced filmmakers. It is our distinct pleasure to announce that Camerimage 2018 Cinematographer – Director Duo Award will be presented to Jean-Marie Dreujou and Jean-Jacques Annaud, who will thus join such partnerships as Vittorio Storaro and Carlos Saura, Ed Lachman and Todd Haynes, Haris Zambarloukos and Kenneth Branagh.
Jean Marie-Dreujou and Jean-Jacques Annaud
on the set of "Wolf Totem"
Despite the fact that they have been setting out on exciting cinematic journeys for more than 15 years now, thus far our laureates made only four feature films and one TV mini-series together. Nevertheless, their ceaseless dedication to explore new ways of depicting the fluid and unstable nature of both human and animal beings made an enormous impact on the way we perceive the language of film. Dreujou and Annaud’s first collaboration came in 2002 with Two Brothers, excruciatingly beautiful and poignant tale of two tigers struggling against captivity and human cruelty in 1920s Indochina. The filmmakers decided to work with real animals on set, including over 30 tigers starring as the two wild protagonists. To underline the theme of clashing of two divergent worlds they shot with HD footage combined with 35mm and some CG-polishing in post-production. The result is a poetic journey into the untamed heart of majestic nature.
However, Dreujou and Annaud’s most renown collaboration came with 2015’s Wolf Totem which they shot for over a year within Inner Mongolia’s harsh yet soaringly beautiful grasslands, working in unison with the surrounding environment. There were times the crew had to walk many miles with heavy equipment on their backs – including 3D cameras – because using cars could have endangered the natural habitat. This lyrical tale of 1960s Chinese student sent to Inner Mongolia to get acquainted with a nomadic tribe of shepherds but instead being transformed by his new hosts’ mystical way of life in co-existence with wolves, once again gave the filmmakers an opportunity to work with real animals. This time on much grander scale, with 200 horses and 1,000 sheep, as well as a dozen wolves trained for four years specifically for the purposes of this project. The resulting film is an experience that makes any verbal description seem meaningless.
Still from "Two Brothers"
Still from "Wolf Totem"
In the meantime, Dreujou and Annaud have also completed two unique, though decidedly less known feature films: the wildly absurd prehistoric fantasy comedy His Majesty Minor (2007), and the Arabian war-for-oil historical spectacle Black Gold (2011). Both projects gave them the opportunity to express their enduring passion for exploring the different sides of being a human, as well as their lifelong romance with the idea of visual storytelling. The same could be said about The Truth About Harry Quebert Affair, ten-episode-long genre-crossing mini-series which premiered in 2018 and is Dreujou and Annaud’s last mutual effort to date. Working with a three-camera set-up and a new territory to delve into, the filmmakers achieved a Hitchcockian suspense and an intriguing sense of immediacy that perfectly balanced out this riveting crime thriller. Needless to say, they passed the test of the “golden age of television series” with flying colors.
Nowadays, it is relatively easy to shoot copious safe-and-solid and thus unmemorable projects that will quickly fade away in the viewers’ minds, never even coming near to challenging their hearts and imagination. It is far more difficult, though, to dedicate yourself fully to a few films that will bear your artistic signature on them and have a lasting impact on all who get to watch them. Jean-Marie Dreujou and Jean-Jacques Annaud were born in France but they are both truly international filmmakers who use the power and the beauty of images and sounds to tell captivating stories of different cultures and traditions, while emphasizing the value of empathy towards the natural world and its many secrets. In less than two months they will arrive in Bydgoszcz to personally accept Camerimage Cinematographer – Director Duo Award and share with the festivalgoers the stories that shaped them both as filmmakers and human beings.
Still from "Wolf Totem"