Cinematographer Piotr Sobociński, Jr. took the cinematography prize at the 2012 Brooklyn Film Festival for his work on Róża (Rose), a Polish feature film that recreates actual historical events during World War II. The movie was also an official selection at Camerimage and at this year’s Palm Springs Film Fest, and took cinematography honors at the Berdyansk International Film Festival in the Ukraine, in addition to taking three prizes at the Polish Film Festival in Warsaw, including the Audience and Critics Awards.
Róża depicts two victims of war and their attempt to maintain humanity. The story is set in Mazury, the Polish Lake Country, where during World War II a German-speaking minority was persecuted by Russian and Polish neighbors. The leads are a local war widow and an officer from the Polish army who wants a quiet place to retire, but the brutality of war surrounds and threatens to crush them. It’s a story of vicious war and haunted survival.
The look of the film is naturalistic, yet desaturated and painterly. A subtle visual sensibility was essential, making the blunt portrayal of many acts of violation visceral, yet allowing the audience some distance.
Sobociński used 35 mm film in the Super 35 format, and after digital intermediate processing, printed on Kodak Vision Premiere print stock. “Shooting 35 mm film gave the images a sophistication and grandeur,” he says. “It also gave me more flexibility in postproduction.”
Różawas directed by Wojtek Smarzowski. Sobociński, Jr. is the grandson of Witold Sobociński, PSC, often called the dean of Polish cinematographers. After a sterling international career, the elder Sobociński has lectured for decades at the Polish national film school, mentoring many on the long list of Polish cinematographers who have had success in world cinema.