La Cicatrice at Camerimage PLUS: an interview with Glauco Bermudez
Each year, the world’s most visually striking films are presented at the renowned Camerimage PLUS Film Festival in Poland. Québec was well represented this year with three films in competition, and Nicolas Bolduc brought home the grand-prize, the Golden Frog in the Main Competition category for his work on Rebelle. DP Glauco Bermudez was in competition in the Cinematographer’s Debut section for his work on Jimmy Larouche’s debut feature, La Cicatrice. The following is an excerpt from a conversation we had with Bermudez while he was in Poland last week.
CineGround: So how's the weather in Poland?
Bermudez: At this time of the year, pretty cloudy, misty and on the cold side, which is the perfect environment to spend all day watching films and attending workshops and seminars by renowned cinematographers such as Doyle and Storaro. So the weather is great!
CineGround: It must be quite a time having all these DP's hanging around together in the same place! Add a little Polish Vodka in the mix and you must have quite a party…
Bermudez: It's such a dream! And the best of all is that you can go and talk to them all and they'll talk back no matter who you are. No glamour or arrogance involved. The ambience around the fest is quite joyful and relaxed, you feel that everyone is having a great time as well as learning and making connections with other fellow cinematographers. And on top of it, in Camerimage, they do know how to throw a good party!
CineGround: You’re actually no stranger to Camerimage, having won the Goldon Frog in 2008 for best Documentary cinematography on the Diego Rivera’s film "Ex-Voto for Three Souls." This year you're at Camerimage because of your work on Jimmy Larouche's film "La Cicatrice." Can you tell me a little bit about how you got involved in this project?
Bermudez: One of my professors from Concordia University, Federico Hidalgo, who I've worked with in a number of projects happened to know Patricia Diaz (Executive Producer of La Cicatrice). She liked the way I work and recommended me to Jimmy who after a brief interview welcomed me to the project. I always say that building a cinematographer's carrier takes not only quality and dedication but a lot of connections!
CineGround: La Cicatrice screened early this week. How was the screening?
Bermudez: We used a DCP for the 2K screening, which went great. The room was almost full and every one stayed till the end. Afterwards there was a Q 'n A that went surprisingly long, they were asking all sorts of questions, from the structure of the story to the conceptual aesthetic approach and the technique behind it. Mostly positive comments, although some people had a hard time following the multiple "time-lines" of the story and its broken narrative, which becomes quite difficult when you have to be reading subtitles at the same time. But overall, I was very happy with the screening of La Cicatrice.
CineGround: And you shot in rural Québec using the RedOne. What was your experience like using the Red?
Bermudez: Overall it was great. It's a robust camera, we where shooting a lot out in the countryside right in the middle of Quebec during fall, so we had to face rain, lots of humidity and cold, not to mention incredibly dusty locations, such as an abandoned barn! Apart from crashing a couple of times the Red MX performed really well and delivered extraordinary latitude which was very valuable in post.
CineGround: Did you get the impression that there were a large number of films in competition that were acquired digitally vs. on film?
Bermudez: I feel there was a real mix, most of the major films presented in the festival, specially in the Main Competition, were shot on film (35mm, 65mm and even Anamorphic Super16) but a large number of projects were produced entirely with digital capture and workflow. It was nice to see such a mix of formats and different aesthetic approaches using film and digital, but the overall trend was digital capture and I'd say I saw as beautifully crafted imagery in digital as I did in film. Most of the films in all categories where screened digitally (2K), except for a couple of 35mm prints. It is really happening, DCP is here to stay. They really take good care of the screening quality at Camerimage; every single film I watched there, whether digital or film, looked amazing.
CineGround: I'm sure you got to see a lot of striking work - maybe things that you wouldn't normally get to see over here. Have there been any films that you've seen so far that have really impressed?
Bermudez: That's something that I love about festivals, there's always rare films that you have the opportunity to see otherwise. There were a bunch of films by new directors and cinematographers that really stroke me by their quality and originality such as You Are God (Poland), Manhunt (Poland), Elektric Children (USA) and Chaika (Spain, Russia).
CineGround: A number of those were in your category of competition, correct? The Cinematographer's Debut category. Did you feel like therewere any sort of similar approaches or style's that seemed to be common amongst this new generation of cinematographers?
Bermudez: I think new cinematographers we are all aiming to find fresh ideas as to how to approach storytelling. I was very pleased and somehow surprised that the films in my category displayed a wide range of styles. They were all different from each-other but each of them were very well crafted within their own aesthetic. If there was something in common between the films it was a surrealism and poetry in the cinematic elements as well as the montage, which often followed a broken storyline.
CineGround: Besides showcasing the year's best cinematography, Camerimage is also famous for bringing the world's best cinematographer's together for workshops and seminars. Did you get the chance to attend any interesting events?
Bermudez: That's right, this festival is not only about watching films but about learning and sharing knowledge. Every year there are fantastic seminars, lectures and workshops given by leading cinematographers. This year, Camerimage 20th Edition, names such as Oliver Stapleton, ASC, Christopher Doyle, HKSC, Vittorio Storaro ASC, AIC and Roberto Schaffer ASC, AIC, gave a number of seminars that I assisted to, sharing a variety of subjects ranging from philosophy of the light and poetry of the image to practical production tips, lighting workshops and funny anecdotes. Attending to such events, where these cinematographers share their knowledge with whomever is interested, has been an incredibly enriching experience for me not to say humbling and deeply inspiring.
CineGround: Which workshop has been your favorite up until now?
Bermudez: I think that from Chris Doyle, where he spend four hours talking about the relationship between words and images as he was showing a number of fictional and experimental filmworks that he has shot mostly in China and that would be impossible to see hadn't he be at Camerimage this year.
Glauco Bermudez was born in Mexico City in 1982. He did a minor in still photography at the Photography Art Center (Mexico), and then went on to study Cinematography at Concordia University in Montreal, where he was awarded several prizes for his work. He has shot several feature films (LA CICATRICE, L’INCREDULE), short films and documentaries in Canada, Mexico, the United States and France. His work has been screened in international film festivals in San Francisco (SFIFF), Toronto (Hot Docs), Montreal (Festival Nouveau Cinema, FIFA), Poland (PLUS CAMERIMAGE – GOLDEN FROG AWARD 2008 for best documentary cinematography on EX-VOTO FOR THREE SOULS) and Cannes. He has also worked as a correspondent photographer in Ecuador, Cuba, India and Mexico. He lives and works in Montreal.
Watch the trailer for La Cicatrice, due out in cinemas in 2013.