Camera Buff (1979): Part 2 of 2
Director: Krzysztof Kieślowski
Writer: Krzysztof Kieślowski
Cinematographer: Jacek Petrycki
Producer: Wielislawa Piotrowska
by Jon Cvack
Continued from Part 1...
The film festival scene was one of the great experiences of the film, especially after finishing up our festival run with Road to the Well and getting to experience the good, the bad, and the absurd. Of the many things you learn on the circuit is that when you’re at them, it feels very important, even though it’s not at all important. Many of the festivals we got into were good festivals, but even as a film lover, I only knew they were good festivals because I did a lot of research. The awards section is always the most awkward, as it creates a very bizarre feeling - on the one hand you really don’t care if you win, as after all of the rejections and the long journey to a complete film, you’re just happy to be there. But then that makes you wonder if you’re just putting on some act as a “cool” person who doesn’t care, which seems condescending to those who do care, but the whole time you actually do care if you win if for no other reason than to at least be prepared to say something and not sound like an idiot, not for you alone, but for the project’s sake, as you never know who is watching, but again, you never heard of this film festival until you did research, so the chances of someone mattering being there listening is slim, making you want to act like you don't care, starting up the whole cycle again.
Filip isn’t exactly portrayed this way, but the Awards ceremony demonstrates a similar point. In the oppressive communistic Republic of Poland, this festival doesn’t really mean much at all. And yet Kieslowski perfectly captures the experience, as the jury and all the diverse voices that comprise the body debate the merits of the films down to the most excruciating detail, made all the more humorous by the fact that, while a great first film, Filip simply went out and shot the world around him rather than creating deliberate metaphors and symbols, leaving the grandiloquent debate to spiral into absurdity. When they decide, at this tiny little festival, that the discussion is too difficult to resolve, agreeing to provide zero awards for first place, instead offering two awards for second place, the becomes all the more ridiculous. Kieslowski reels us in, showing us Filip who is disappointed and dejected. I completely understood. As meaningless as awards are they symbolize what could be everything; namely, opportunity. Awards open doors to other things, or so we might imagine. And this extends beyond film. It is failing at something that you put your heart into, having to accept that you did just an okay job. With limited opportunity, Filip’s reaction is based on a struggle against overwhelming odds; whether leading to something else or not, like most filmmakers, it stood to provide affirmation.
The project does lead Filip to greater opportunities, allowing him to take all he learned and apply it to larger endeavor. Yet he’s also aware of the sacrifices required, knowing that continued neglect of his wife and daughter were no longer possible. Although provided greater resources for a greater film, he realizes that perhaps the greatest subject is turning the camera on himself. As most great films contain significant volumes of autobiography, we’re left hoping that this sophomore follow up ends up working out in the end.
There are few, if any, breathtaking shots or extravagant performances or moments in the film. What Kieslowski achieves is what he always accomplishes, which is focusing on the characters, placed within a simple plot, and making the smallest of moments seem larger than you’d ever imagine. Up there with Satyajit Ray, Yasujiro Ozu, and the Dardennes Brothers the films trajectory provides all of the peaks and valleys that could rival any Hollywood film.
BELOW: An extra from the Camera Buff DVD (with English Subtitles)
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2/7/2020 12:55:22 am
But despite these flaws, it is one of the five best cameras below 200$. You want to know why?
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