Witold Sobocinski, Polish Cinematographer, Dies at 89

Witold Sobocinski
Anna Konop

Witold Sobocinski, the respected Polish cinematographer who collaborated with directors Andrzej Wajda and Roman Polanski, among others, has died. He was 89.

His death was announced Monday by the National Film School in Lodz, Poland, where he was a professor as well as a graduate.

On Nov. 10, Sobocinski was in Bydgoszcz, Poland, at the 26th Camerimage International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography to receive the Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award. Polanski presented the award to him, and director Ron Howard and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski congratulated him via prerecorded videos.

The festival described him as "one of the most distinguished Polish cinematographers, and his world-famous camerawork has contributed to over 90 feature films, documentaries and series."

Sobocinski's credits include Wajda's The Wedding (1972) and The Promised Land (1975), the latter nominated for an Oscar for best foreign-language film; Polanski's Frantic (1988), starring Harrison Ford; The Gateway of Europe (1999), directed by Jerzy Wojcik; Piotr Szulkin's O-Bi, O-Ba: The End of Civilization (1985); Wojciech Jerzy Has' The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973); The Third Part of the Night (1971), helmed by Andrzej Zulawski; and Hospital of the Transfiguration (1979), directed by Edward Zebrowski. 

"Since the '80s, our teacher-professor at the Cinematography Department has been greatly respected by his students, educated generations of cinematographers and been one of the most important Lodz Film School professors in its whole history," a statement on the school website says of Sobocinski.

He was the father of cameraman Piotr Sobocinski, who died in 2001, and the grandfather of Piotr Sobocinski Jr. and Michal Sobocinski, who are cameramen as well.