Deserted Brussels. Photo: Marc Swadel
The schedule was three days of IMAGO activity, with representatives from countries all over the globe, and it was to be a triumphant meet up – with The ASC officially joining, Uruguay as well, a vote for a new President, and of course the IMAGO International Awards for Cinematography – the only peer voted awards of its stature anywhere.. in short – a testament to how great things were going in the world of Cinematography.
I arrived into Brussels, from London on the 11th March, and wandered over to the venue from the train station. I was looking forward to catching up with old friends, Ron from the ACS, and also meeting Denson Baker, who was up for an award at the bash on Saturday night. Walking into the meeting room, it was in full flight, I quietly sat down at the back, as the IAGA business was being discussed, and at a juncture In the proceedings was welcomed in –‘ ‘And we welcome Marc Swadel from the NZCS – all the way from New Zealand!’ Which is a standing joke – as usually I just hop on the train over from London. Except this time, I HAD flown in from NZ the day before! Louis-Philippe Capelle SBC, who was chairing the meeting, said ‘ Oh.. well you have come a long way for some bad news ..’ the bad news being, just 10 minutes before, they had agreed to cancel the entire she-bang – due to the ensuing COVID-19 shitstorm that was starting to engulf the continent.
We got the IMAGO meeting all done in one day - as countries around the world were closing down the borders - and many had to leave throughout the day to avoid being stuck at the border. I had to get the earliest train out the next day for the same reason.
The Awards were cancelled/postponed. Denson was poised to come on over, but just sat it out in London - which was a real shame! Would have been nice to have seen him get the limelight :)
Like the NZCS, through good management and stewardship - quite healthy. BUT with the Awards being canned/postponed - a potential very large financial hole opened up. Luckily, as this year the awards etc. are in Brussels, the home territory for IMAGO and the SBC. Louis-Philippe, who is the key organiser, is busy trying to defer venue and hotel bookings and get credit notes towards possibly holding it at a later date, or for next year..
A New IMAGO Logo
A new logo has been designed - which was meant to be unveiled - but he UK design company couldn’t make it over to present.. so it will revealed at a later date!
New IMAGO Office
IMAGO has a new office in the same building as FERA - the European Directors federation - whom IMAGO have joined with to fight for Authorship rights in the EU, and the building also houses the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) and La Maison Européenne es Autrices et des Auteurs (MEDAA) – the Writers Guild. This is a really positive move – there is a strong European ground swell to get more royalties and rights recognised for the creators of film and TV in Europe – and if this fight can be won, then it will hopefully be a condition of funding for any film or co-production funding from within the EU.
Application for EU funding
Elen Lotman ESC is putting together an application for EU funding for IMAGO, for this coming fiscal year.
IMAGO Fees/New Members
One thing that was discussed, was the fact that many smaller societies can’t afford the 22 Euro per member levy for IMAGO membership. We looked at how the fees work, a suggestion was to make a minimum of 100 Euro for smaller societies, so they can come onboard. I suggested that the bigger societies 'sponsor' a smaller one into the organisation - as many smaller societies don't have much $$ to play with - case in point - Estonia - which pays 600 Euro - which is 80% of their member society dues!
And here are the winners, and the nominees:
The IMAGO International Award for Best Cinematography in FEATURE FILMS:
Winner: 1917 - Roger Deakins BSC ASC
Nominees: The Spy / Spionen / Anton Mertens SBC
Blizzard of Souls / Dvēseļu Putenis / Valdis Celmins LGC
The IMAGO International Award for Best Cinematography in TV DRAMA:
Winner: Patrick Melrose 'Bad News' - James Friend ASC BSC
Nominees: Liebermann / Vienna Blood - Xiaosu Han / Andreas Thalhammer AAC
Victoria - “Comfort & Joy” - Denson Baker NZCS ACS
The IMAGO International Award for Best Cinematography in DOCUMENTARY:
Winners: Honeyland / Medena Zemja - Fejmi Daut MSC and Samir MSC
Nominees: By the Name of Tania - Virginie Surdej SBC
Sidik and the Leopard (Sidik en de Panter) - Roy van Egmond NSC
Anthropocene - The Human Epoch - Nicholas de Pencier CSC
In conclusion, a real shame those nominated did not get their night in the spotlight, and we as Cinematographers did not get to celebrate what we do.. but cancelling was the right decision. It just wasn’t worth the risk – the last thing we would want is attendees going home to all corners of the world and potentially bringing the virus with them! In the month or so since that weekend in March – this decision has been shown to be a wise one. A total lock down, and a freeze on work globally, which has bought everything to a grinding halt. Due to a decisive PM – NZ is looking a whole load better than most countries, and hopefully gets to slowly climb back into a semblance of normalcy over the coming months – which could bring a large number of inward productions to NZ – as most of the rest of the world will still be in worse shape..
Whatever happens – keep safe and keep healthy!
~ Marc Swadel, NZCS Committee Member