'Joker' Wins Golden Frog at Camerimage

Joker Still 1 - JOAQUIN PHOENIX - Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publicity- EMBED 2019
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Joaquin Phoenix stars in Joker, which is marketed as an awards-worthy movie.

Cinematographer Lawrence Sher's dramatic lensing of Joker, Todd Phillips' psychological thriller about the origin of the DC Comics villain, claimed the Golden Frog in the main competition at the EnergaCamerimage festival on Saturday in Torun, Poland. The pic additionally won the Audience Award.

Among the other prizes presented during the cinematography festival's closing ceremony, Camerimage awarded the Silver Frog to Fernando Meirelles' Netflix release The Two Popes, lensed by Uruguayan DP Cesar Charlone. With Meirelles, Charlone previously earned the 2003 Golden Frog (and an Academy Award nomination) for City of God and the 2008 Silver Frog for Blindness.

The Bronze Frog and the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize went to The Painted Bird, Czech Republic's Oscar entry for best international feature film. Written and directed by Vaclav Marhoul, the adaptation of Jerzy Kosinski's Holocaust novel of the same name was photographed in black and white by lenser Vladimir Smutny.

These are closely watched awards, as the cinematography festival's main competition has become a bellwether for what's to come in the Oscar category. In three of the past six years, the winners of Camerimage's Golden Frog have gone on to earn Oscar nominations in cinematography. Those films include 2013's Ida, 2015's Carol and 2016's Lion. (The 2014 Golden Frog winner, Leviathan, and the 2017 Camerimage champ, On Body and Soul, were each nominated in the foreign-language film Oscar category.)

Last year, The Fortress, a 2017 film that was not eligible for last year's Oscar race, won the Golden Frog. However, the Silver Frog went to Cold War, which earned a cinematography Oscar nomination and won the American Society of Cinematographers feature competition. The Bronze Frog went to Roma, which won the Oscar in cinematography.

This year's main competition lineup also included Martin Scorsese's crime film The Irishman, the racing drama Ford v. Ferrari, Edward Norton's noir thriller Motherless Brooklyn and the indie drama The Last Black Man in San Francisco, as well as Amundsen, Bolden, Never Look Away, Mr. JonesAn Officer and a Spy and Shadow.

The main competition jury was led by director Michael Hoffman (The Last Station), and included cinematographers John de Borman (The Full Monty), Peter James (Driving Miss Daisy), Teresa Medina (Things I Never Told You), Anastas Michos (The Kissing Booth) and Dante Spinotti (L.A. Confidential), as well as screenwriter Jordan Roberts (Big Hero 6).

Of photographing Warner Bros.' Joker, Sher said in a recent episode of The Hollywood Reporter's Behind the Screen podcast, "Knowing that the movie was first and foremost a character study — and one of the reasons that I was really keen on shooting with this larger format — was the way it allows you to shoot closer, really intimate proximity to the actors, which I think psychologically is subconscious but it really matters to an audience. ... When you have somebody performing at the level that [Joaquin Phoenix] is performing, you want to be close. You want to see the nuances."

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Richardson received the Camerimage cinematographer-director duo award, as their Once Upon a Time in Hollywood closed the festival.

Also during the ceremony, cinematographer and past Motion Picture Academy president John Bailey received the fest's Lifetime Achievement Award. Additional honorees included Edward Norton, who received the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award; Lech Majewski, special directing award; Jan Roelfs, award to a production designer; and Richard Gere, special award to an actor. Camerimage also presented a special honor to the British Society of Cinematographers on its 70th anniversary.

During the festival's Nov. 9 opening ceremony, Camerimage recognized the ASC for its 100th anniversary. as well as Peter Greenaway with a lifetime achievement award for directing; Danny De Vito, lifetime achievement award for acting; Ewa Dalkowska, award for a Polish actress; and Helena Trestikova, outstanding achievement in documentary filmmaking.

This year, the Polish festival, now in its 27th installment, returned to the city of Torun, which hosted the first seven editions of Camerimage. Representing an expected investment of roughly $1.55 million, the city, state, and Camerimage are planning to construct a new institution — a European Film Center Camerimage — which would host future festivals and other events in Torun.

A complete list of award winners:


Camerimage Audience Award: Joker
Cin: Lawrence Sher
Dir: Todd Phillips


FIPRESCI International Critics Prize: The Painted Bird
Cin: Vladimir Smutny
Dir: Václav Marhoul


Best Polish Film: Mister T.
Cin: Artur Bajerski
Dir: Marcin Krzysztalowicz


Laszlo Kovacs Student Award — Golden Tadpole: Lefty/Righty
Cin: Alfonso Herrera Salcedo
Dir: Max Walker-Silverman
School: NYU Tisch School of the Arts

Silver Tadpole: Mariam and Natan
Cin/Dir: David Bajerski
School: Lódz Film School

Bronze Tadpole: The Last Children in Paradise 
Cin: Felix Pflieger
Dir: Anna Roller
School: HFF München – Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film


Best Documentary Feature: Midnight Family
Cin. Luke Lorentzen
Dir. Luke Lorentzen

Golden Frog — best docudrama: Marek Edelman... and There Was Love in the Ghetto
Cin. Jakub Kijowski, Jolanta Dylewska
Dir. Jolanta Dylewska


Golden Frog — Grand Prix: Kamali
Cin. Jake Gabbay
Dir. Sasha Rainbow

Special Mention: Oneself
Cin. Christiaan van Leeuwen
Dir. Carolien van Maaswaal


Best Director's Debut: Pacified
Cin. Laura Merians
Dir. Paxton Winters


Best Cinematographer's Debut: Pacified
Cin. Laura Merians
Dir. Paxton Winters


Best Music Video: James Massiah, Natural Born Killer (Ride for Me)
Cin. Mauro Chiarello
Dir. Ian Pons Jewell

Best cinematography in a music video: Jon Hopkins Singularity
Cin. Khalid Mohtaseb 
Dir. Seb Edwards


Best Pilot: Euphoria
Cin: Marcell Rev
Dir: Augustine Frizzell