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Tunisia’s Carthage Film Fest opens – ‘Carol’ cinematographer takes top prize at Camerimage

President of the jury of the 26th Carthage Film Festival, Morocco’s Noureddine Sail (right), stands next to (from right to left) jury members Palestine’s Leila Shahid, Nigeria’s Newton Aduaka, Chile’s Marcela Said, Egypt’s Oussama Fawzi, French Tunisian Abel Jafri and Tunisia’s Anissa Barrak during the opening ceremony on Nov 21, in the Tunisian capital Tunis. (AFP)
President of the jury of the 26th Carthage Film Festival, Morocco’s Noureddine Sail (right), stands next to (from right to left) jury members Palestine’s Leila Shahid, Nigeria’s Newton Aduaka, Chile’s Marcela Said, Egypt’s Oussama Fawzi, French Tunisian Abel Jafri and Tunisia’s Anissa Barrak during the opening ceremony on Nov 21, in the Tunisian capital Tunis. (AFP)

TUNIS, Nov 22, (Agencies): The 26th Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia, a showcase for Arab and African cinematographers, opened amid heavy security Saturday in a country rocked this year by deadly jihadist attacks.

A state of emergency was in force in the North African country until early October, imposed after a jihadist went on a shooting spree at a popular Mediterranean resort in June, killing 38 foreign tourists.

And in March, gunmen stormed the national museum in the capital, killing 21 tourists and a policeman.

But festival director Ibrahim Letaief said the festival, opening just a week after jihadist attacks in Paris left 130 people dead, is an “antidote to violence”, as film “tears away the veil of darkness and is the guarantor of the greatest victory over terrorism”.

Culture Minister Latifa Lakhdar echoed that sentiment, saying: “Creativity is the greatest way to mark our attachment to life and our battle against those people who would destroy even the most elementary principles of life.”


And Interior Minister Najem Gharsalli insisted that “we have taken the necessary measures to guarantee maximum security, because this event represents the joy of Tunisians and of our guests”.

Film-makers from Africa and the Arab world, Arab movie stars and politicians walked down the red carpet to the Bonbonniere theatre for opening night.

The official competition at the festival, which will end next Saturday, includes 17 feature-length films, 13 shorts and 16 documentaries.

“Much Loved”, a Moroccan film about prostitution that is banned at home, will be among those featuring in competition.

 “Carol” cinematographer Ed Lachman won the top award, the Golden Frog, at Camerimage Film Festival, which is devoted to the art of cinematography, on Saturday. The film, which is directed by Todd Haynes, and stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, looks at repression and romance in 1950s America.

Lachman said: “I keep telling Todd, ‘Not another one,’ and he keeps hiring me … This award really goes to my crew, my director and all of you who love cinema, and my fellow nominees — I was so inspired by their images, and I never thought that this would be the award. I will always be a student here, and whatever I contribute to this festival, I always feel like I take away much, much more.”

It was a film of “aristocratic grace and elegance,” said the jury, which was headed by director Michael Hoffman, adding: “It seamlessly evokes the period by paying homage to the great photography of the time. It also creates its own unique cinematic language and pulls the viewer deeper and deeper into a world where something as simple as love comes at a staggering cost.”

The jury statement continued: “Its delicate and precise exploration of emotion through color and light led us to discuss what it meant to achieve mastery of our craft. In the end we decided that the recipient of the Golden Frog is, for us, a master and that this film is a masterpiece.”

The Silver Frog went to Sturla Brandth Grovlen, for his cinematography on “Rams,” and the Bronze Frog was won by “Son of Saul” cinematographer Matyas Erdely. Jerzy Zielinski won the Polish films competition for “Summer Solstice.”

The Golden Frog for a documentary feature was picked up by “The Look of Silence” cinematographer Lars Skree, with a special mention going to Wojciech Staron for “Brothers.”

“Love,” whose cinematographer was Benoit Debie, was named best 3D film.

The award for a debut by a cinematographer was given to Joshua James Richards for “Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” while the honor for a directorial debut was taken by “Perfect Obedience” helmer Luis Urquiza Mondragon, whose cinematographer was Serguei Saldivar Tanaka.

The awards for music video and cinematography in a music video both went to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” which was shot by cinematographer Rob Witt. The prize for television pilot went to “Penny Dreadful: Night Work,” whose cinematographer is Xavi Gimenez.

Speaking at Camerimage, a film festival devoted to the art of cinematography, Patrick Lin, the director of photography on Pixar Animation Studios’ “Inside Out,” explained how his team used virtual cameras and lighting in a similar way to how a cinematographer on a live-action movie would do.

Lin, whose full title on the movie is d.p. — camera and staging, was joined at the panel discussion this week by his fellow crew members Kim White, d.p. — lighting, and Adam Habib, camera and staging lead.

In Lin’s overview of the production process, he explained that whereas in live-action the phrase is “Lights, camera, action,” in computer animation it is “all mixed up.” “It is actually ‘Camera, action, light’ — in other words, it is layout, animation, and then lighting,” he said.

Where animation and live-action differ is that the shooting, or layout, and lighting of a scene are done separately, but naturally they have to work hand in hand.

“Cinematography at Pixar is a collaborative effort between two departments — layout and lighting,” Lin said. “And layout is responsible for the camera and staging part, and it is a first step to defining what the film is going to look like cinematically. And lighting is responsible for light, shadow, color and value, and all the way to the finishing step of grading the film.”

The camera, although virtual, is “mathematically true… to a real camera,” Lin said. “It has lenses, focal length, F-stop, lens distortion, and depth of field. And we mimic the camera movement: like a real camera it can be on a track, dolly or crane, or be a Steadicam or hand-held.”

One of the first steps in the production process is “staging.” “Staging is the choreography of the camera and the subject, and how we move them through the scene. We are responsible for framing and compositions. We need to do camera and character blocking. Determine positions and movements for both camera and characters. And we also establish the eye lines, screen directions and a load of other stuff too,” he said.

Like a d.p. in live-action, Lin has to decide on the type of lens to use (wide-angle or long lens), the type of shot (an over-the-shoulder, single, and so on), whether the camera should be moving or still, and if moving, what type of movement it should have. All this Lin referred to as “camera structure.”

“Camera structure is a way of organizing all those visual elements into something coherent to support your story and your characters,” he said. “So on ‘Inside Out’ we have three main parts to our camera structure: camera language, visual intensity progressions, and scale progressions.”

He explained that the camera language on “Inside Out” helps differentiate the two worlds in the film: the world of the mind, inside, and the human world, outside. “What we love about these two worlds is the contrast between them, and so we designed two separate camera languages that can help define and separate these two worlds, but at the same time contrast each other,” Lin said.

The outside world is based on real locations, San Francisco and Minnesota, “so the camera should feel real, with imperfections,” he said, while the inside “mind world” is imaginary, so it is “virtual and perfect.”

One way that these “imperfections” were achieved was to incorporate lens distortion, which added texture. Pixar had lens distortion ready to deploy for “Ratatouille,” Lin said, but due to a change in director it was decided not to use it, so the images were “flat.” Lens distortion was first used on “WALL-E.” The outside world camera in “Inside Out” was based on the S4s lens, with more distortion, and the inside world camera was based on the Ultra Prime lens.

Another way that they introduced imperfections into the outside world was by incorporating out-of-focus shots, just as in live-action when the focus puller misses the focus.

Another way to differentiate the two worlds was through differences in camera movement. In the inside world, more mechanical camera movement was deployed, using dolly, track, crane and boom. The movement is deliberate, graceful, controlled and based on a pre-determined pattern, Lin said. For the outside world, they wanted to use “something a little more organic,” such as using zoom, Steadicam and hand-held cameras. This is a little more loose and free, with no pre-determined path.

Lin’s team also supported the “emotional journey” of the central character, Riley, through a difference in camera movement in the outside world. In the first act, where her emotions are under control, Steadicam is used, and in the second and third acts there’s a shift to hand-held, as her emotions go out of kilter.

Scale progressions — scale being the size of the world from the perspective of the central characters — is used to support the development of the characters and storylines of Riley and Joy.

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