(2016) Above the Sewers of Racism

At a time when nations in Europe are fighting to rise above the sewers of racism and prejudice, Cinematographers can take pride that their Societies are forging friendship and understanding through International co-operation.

The spirit of collaboration which led Imago to reform its legislation last year by opening membership to all Societies worldwide dedicated to improving standards of cinematography through communication, was present in abundance at the Second World Summit of Cinematographers (ICS). It was organised impeccably by the American Society (ASC) in Los Angeles; (writes Nigel Walters BSC Imago president 2008-2015). Officially 60 delegates represented 30 Societies, including Mongolia. (The photograph of their delegate Angarag Davasuren was taken by the Greek President, Yiannis Daskalothanassis.)

Angarag Davasuren
From right to left,Nigel Walters BSC; Tahvo Hirvonen FSC; Frederic
Goodich ASC; Yannis Diskalothanasis GSC; Ron Johanson ACS;
Zhao Xiaoding CSC; and George Cheng CSC.

An impressive and comprehensive report on the Summit, by the dynamic President of the ACS Ron Johanson, who made an immense contribution to the Conference success, can be read on the ACS website. http://www.cinematographer.org.au/cms/page.asp?ID=22138 It was written with the assistance of David Burr ACS and would be difficult to improve. This article for the BSC and Imago web sites is consequently indebted to their dedication in producing this ACS report. In itself it is an object lesson of a Society communicating with its members.

The ISC marked the final days of the third term of Presidency for Richard Crudo ASC whose eyes were opened last year to the power of cinematographers collaborating, by a long-overdue visit to Camerimage. The 48 societies in Imago share many common values and interests and have created a fellowship to solve challenges, through friendship and communication. This has help maintain worldwide standards in the craft of cinematography particularly through Master Classes and technical co-operation.

This second International Summit organised by the ASC was an important step in uniting the few remaining pieces of the jig-saw, namely the Chinese and American Societies. Importantly it brought together most of the Societies of South and Central America and Mexico. This achievement had hitherto been outside the ability of Imago, mostly due to the distances and expense involved. At the ASC Clubhouse delegates representing Societies from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, El Salvador and Venezuela signed a joint declaration of Continental co-operation. It was reassuring to learn from the Brazilian President Lauro Esacorel ABC that Imago had earlier inspired their resolve to come together in friendship. Argentina was the first Society outside Europe to join Imago soon after it was formed in 1996.

The Chinese society sent the highly respected Mu Deyuan, Academy Award nominee Zhao Xiaoding, Yang Shu and Du Yan Li. As befitting cinematographers with the finest conditions in the world the Danish DFF were also well represented. They and the other delegates listened as the Chinese told of having no days free whilst shooting. Seven days a week means seven days work a week! No-one had the temerity to enquire about health and safety following this revelation.


Throughout the four day Summit, the International spirit of Vilmos Zsigmond and Haskell Wexler were ever present. They were both supporters of Imago and would have been delighted at this generosity and the achievement created by the American Society.

At one of the regional groups meetings, the Societies in the Asia-Pacific area, including Malaysia, New Zealand, China, Philippines, India and Australia discussed how to best interact and pass information and support to each another.
It would be remiss not to mention notable contributions to the success of the Second ICS by ASC, AMC and AIC members including Michael Goi, Past President responsible for initiating the first Summit in 2011, and Frederic Goodich ASC Board Secretary for his ICS organisation, Guillermo Navarro AMC, Emmanuel Lubezki AMC, Bill Pope ASC, Bill Bennett ASC and Vittorio Storaro AIC ASC.

Considerable contributions were made by Imago Board members Rolf Coulanges BvK, Timo Heinanen FSC and the unforgettable Elen Lotman ESC. However the final accolade has to belong to Patty Armacost , assisted by Delphine Figueros, Alex and all the staff at the ASC Clubhouse.
The new President of the ASC Kees van Oostrum ASC was filming in LA during the Summit. The election of this popular Dutch born cinematographer should ensure a continuation along the road towards meaningful International collaboration. The ASC in the oldest Society in the world many of its 340 members originating outside the States. In 2019 it will be celebrating 100 years of promoting standards in cinematography.

Many of the Societies present will be represented at Imago’s 24th International Conference in Bitola Macedonia in September. This IAGA will take place during the Manaki Brothers Festival, this year celebrating its 36th anniversary making it the oldest in the world devoted to the craft of cinematography. The Life time Achievement Award will be presented to John Seale ACS ASC and the Golden Camera 300 to Phedon Papamichael GSC ASC who will also chair the Jury.

by Nigel Walters BSC

Several reports concerning the ASC Summit can be seen here

by Ron Johanson OAM ACS & David Burr ACS



Part I: The Future of the Cinematographer

Part II: Who is the Author of an Image?

Part III: A Model of Collaboration in The Revenant

Part IV: The Continuing Relevance of Film

Part V: Cinematography In Virtual Reality

Part VI: Safety, Leadership and Opportunity

Part VII: A Model of Collaboration in The Jungle

Part VIII: ACES at the Academy

Part IX: Panavision & How Optics Influence the Aesthetic


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