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TIFF Review – Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma, the Colours of Life

water and sugar

The life and works of acclaimed Italian cinematographer Carlo Di Palma is celebrated by documentary filmmaker Fariborz Kamkari.

The request to put together an exhibition of the works of Carlo Di Palma serves as the impetus for Adriana Chiesa to reflect upon the life and works of her late husband by talking to his colleagues and admirers.  Directors, journalists, cinematographers, actors, and many others provide their insights into what made Di Palma not simply technician but an artist.

As great as it is to have the presence of Bernardo Bertolucci, Woody Allen and Ken Loach, the real treasure are the archival interviews with Carlo Di Palma who expresses a deep love and understanding of the crafting cinematic imagery through light, colours, and framing. He notes, “Filming in black and white is an immediate transfiguration of reality.  In colour all the reality became too realistic.”  Di Palma tells an interesting story about Woody Allen wanting a complicated selection of shots for a restaurant scene and him devising a simple solution involving a camera rotating around the table as the actors speak.

A major bonus is the variety of footage taken from over 100 films in which Carlo Di Palma worked on either as cinematographer or director as well as the behind the scenes stills showing him operating the camera.  One has to admire the man who began as a 15 year old camera assistant and was able to move through the ranks learning and developing his skills to a point of mastery.  The documentary provides an interesting perspective into the development of Italian cinema along with giving meaningful insight into the craft of cinematography.


Check out all of our TIFF coverage.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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