Friday 24th through Saturday 25th of March, members of cinematographers’ societies from all corners of the world gathered at the spectacular setting of the legendary Cinecittà studios just south of Rome in Italy. The occasion was two very intense days of activities to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of IMAGO - the International Federation of Cinematographers - and also to hold its annual meeting, the IAGA.
All delegates were accommodated at Movie Movie Hotel, an exciting establishment literally a stone’s throw from Cinecittà studios. In fact, if you are in good shape you could actually throw pebbles from your hotel room window at the ancient Roman backlot sets at the other side of the wall surrounding Cinecittà. You would probably be caught quickly by the studio security guards though, so leave this thought on a hypothetical level.
During Friday, the lion’s part of the IAGA was held in the Conference Room at the entrance floor of the Movie Movie Hotel. The enthusiastic and heated debate centered on whether the IMAGO website needs an overhaul, since more and more people follow it on their phones rather than on computers, and also how IMAGO should handle the membership of the Russian society RGC, since this has led to controversies like IMAGO being asked not to participate in last year’s Camerimage.
At the helm of this event is IMAGO’s new President Mustapha Barat ABC, and he gets nothing but kudos and praise from those in attendance here for his smooth and skillfully diplomatic leadership. Those who have closely followed the often bumpy ride of IMAGO throughout the last few years since the 2020 IAGA in Brussels (a major rollercoaster in its own right), will be pleased to hear that the general consensus here is that ”IMAGO is back on track!” The current less Euroenctric leadership and Board constitution has breathed new life into the work at hand and general proceedings of IMAGO’s leadership and members, and the effects are clearly noticeable here in Rome. Everyone is result-oriented and there are smiles and good cheer all around.
IMAGO’s stalwart sponsors, without whose generous support the event would have been of less ambitious proportions, showcased their latest products throughout both days. Sony demonstrated the VENICE 2 camera in combination with the Rialto 2 unit, Rosco proudly showed the DMG Dash pocket-size LED light (a favorite of Steven Fierberg ASC) and Aputure explained the limitless possibilities of the Infinibar, their LED bar which can be configured to create shapes like panels or strips etc. If you wish to read more about these companies, their latest product and their presence at the Cinecittà festivities, there are articles under ”News” at the IMAGO website. A fourth sponsor present at the event was Nanlux, who showcased some of their latest offerings including the impressive Evoke 1200B Bi-Colour Spot Light and their Dyno Series 1200C LED Soft Panel Light which attendees were able to experience up close and personal over the weekend.
The new Evoke 1200B was only launched at the end of last year and offers precision lighting for cinematographers and gaffers. Its advanced Bi-Colour light mixing technologies ensure continuity accuracy in CCT changes from 2700K all the way up to 6500K while the light's whole-fixture IP54 rated in a hermetically sealed structure to withstand inclement weather and any extreme conditions.
The Friday part of the IAGA, through expert leadership, was wrapped up on time and on schedule and next on the program was a sumptuous Membership & Board Dinner at the not too distant Ristorante Salvi. As fate would have it, we wound up seated at the same table as Oleksandr Kryshtalovych UGC from Ukraine and Steven Fierberg ASC and his lovely moitié, ensuring a very interesting conversation covering numerous topics. The dinner itself proved to be something of a gastronomic Marathon of hand-cut ham, artichokes alla giudia, buffalo mozzarella, mushrooms, tagliatelle with bacon and artichokes… and topped off with mixed grilled meat, in case anyone’s still hungry at that point. To add that one slept like a baby having ingested all that, is probably unnecessary.
On Saturday the 25th, the proceedings moved to the venerable Cinecittà studios themselves, and more specifically the splendid Palazzina Fellini with its magnificent state-of-the-art movie theatre auditorium, and IMAGO’s loyal sponsors setting up camp in the foyer.
There was a very full program indeed. The last item on the IAGA agenda, the IMAGO Committees giving their reports on activities held during the previous year, ran the full gamut from the Working Conditions Committee, led by Kurt Brazda who presented their White Book ”Sick Art”, via the Authorship, Educational and Technical Committees -some of whose presentations were held online and some in person- to the Diversion and Inclusion Committee as well as the The Masterclass Committee, which is re-forming with a new set of members under the leadership of Adriana Bernal ADFC who is also co-president of IMAGO.
After this massive run-through the proceedings were actually a bit behind schedule, and everyone needed a short break to stretch their legs and an interesting concept here proved to be a 300 strong audience and just two restrooms in the foyer. In good time for the next presentations, as IMAGO’s 30th anniversary is celebrated in collaboration with the AIC, the Italian Society of Cinematographers, an extra throng of participants showed up, many from the AIC and including such legends as Vittorio Storaro AIC ASC and Daniele Nannuzzi AIC, among others. When the two upcoming company presentations from Sony and Filmlight started, the Palazzina Fellini was well-filled to say the least.
We learn from Sebastian that the VENICE camera system is both back- and forwards compatible (you can mount the VENICE 1 sensor in the smaller VENICE 2 body, should you so desire) and from Daniele that there is no such thing as ”No Look” to shot material -it is an impossibility!
Lunch was served at Cinecittàs own cafeteria and as we all returned at 2 PM the crowd had grown exponentially and the auditorium is now filled to capacity, with people even standing in the back and in the aisles. Several of us were so taken by surprise by the efficiency of the proceedings that our brought-along-for-the-occasion fancy suits remained in our hotel rooms…
Luciano Tovoli AIC ASC enters the stage to kick off the Celebration of IMAGOs 30th anniversary, and commanding the podium, he calls for Paul René Roestad FNF and Nigel Walters BSC to stand up, the three of them being meet with thundering applause. A fascinating documentary is then screened highlighting the body of work of IMAGO founder Luciano Tovoli, and then it’s time for a Tribute to Maestro Tovoli and the Founding Societies who got IMAGO started all those years ago. Prizes are handed out by President Mustapha Barat ABC to the representatives of the AIC, the BSC, the AFC (Luciano Tovoli, Chris Ross and Richard Andry respectively) and the award to founding society BVK is to be forwarded to the German society at a later time as they are not present here.
The last item on the program was a Round Table with Bojana Andric SAS, Daniela Cajias AEC, Chris Ross BSC, and Luciano Tovoli AIC, moderated by Lars Pettersson FSF, on the subject of ”Cinematography in the next decade”. Chris Ross opened the discussion by stressing that collaborations are key to a successful shoot, regardless if you’re a 15 or 200 strong crew. And the futuristic theme inevitably led to a discussion of Virtual Production, with Bojana Andric reflecting that she couldn’t imagine going back to shooting Green Screen after realizing what VP has to offer modern day filmmakers. Daniela Cajias also stressed the importance of collaborations in her contributions to the debate and it seems highly fitting that a ”bon mot” on this subject, delivered by ”Maestro” Luciano Tovoli AIC ASC, whose visionary concept of camaraderie and fellowship helped make IMAGO a reality all those years ago, should conclude the roundtable, and therefore also the official 30th Anniversary celebrations themselves.
”It’s always about collaborations, it was back then and it is now”, the legendary cinematographer reflected, recounting how his producer told him at the tail end of a very difficult production; ”Don’t worry, Luciano, if this goes sideways we’ll go to prison TOGETHER”. Just the right kind of moral support you want from your superiors on a difficult shoot!
There remained only for the crowd to gather on the Cinecitta studio grounds outside the Palazzina Fellini for closing cocktails served in the dusk of an almost magically beautiful Italian early spring evening.
Lars Pettersson FSF