Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Jerzy Stuhr, Malgorzata Zabkowska, Ewa Pokas, Stefan Czyzewski, Jerzy Nowak
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Studio: Kino International Release Date: 08/17/2004 Run time: 107 minutes
Futoshi J. Tomori | 04/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the late Krzysztof Kieslowski, celebrated director of RED, WHITE, and BLUE, life is an undivine comedy--and film-making a far stranger farce. No doubt that the absurdities that this Pole faced througout his life afforded him a peculiar brand and blend of pessimism, humanism, and humour which informs his works.In CAMERA BUFF, originally entitled AMATOR in Polish with the implication on the word amateur, the film-maker is Filip, a factory worker. He acquiresan 8 mm camera with the intention of filming his daughter's development. This biographic projects soon develops into other things, such as bearing witness to the society around him. It comes to a point where the authorities cautions him in his filmic projects. Filip's double life takes over and he is slowly becomes isolated from his family and friends. In the end Filip finally faces up to his obsessions. What began as a humourous movie about obsessive cinephilia turns and, later, totalitarian film-making, doubles back into a study of human vulnerablity. Filip's final gesture is revisited by Kieslowski, the man behind the camera, in a scene towards the end of of his last movie RED. The autobiographical is not far away from Kieslowski's meditation on politics and art. Kieslowski started out as a documentarist. Once, it turns out that he may have recorded a murderer stuffing her victim's dead body in a train locker. When the authorities seized the cameras for his documentary, it turns out that the event was not filmed. In addition, Kieslowski offers fragments of a documentary in CAMERA BUFF. This documentary within the movie was once a potential project but was turned down by the censors. Kieslowski not only relates to his characters, the 'not fulfilled' as one commentator puts it, but may be populated by his echoes, shades or twins. Actual incidents and personages intrude upon the fictional world. Stories get repeated with slight variations. Lives are lived simultaneously in different parts of the world. Some are born too soon or too late, depending upons one's point of view, but all are after the same things in life.Kieslowski is a moralist film-maker andhe eschews a heavy-handed moralism for a compassionate world view. No one is entirely evil and we must understand them, he would suggest. And so his characters may seem lost and clueless, but in the end Kieslowski offers them a sense of ambigious redemption and release. Their lives and ours are part of a human comedy afterall."
Flipper Campbell | Miami Florida | 08/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Camera Buff" (1979) brought Krzysztof Kieslowski his first international acclaim, taking the top prize at the Moscow film fest. It concerns a proud dad (Jerzy Stuhr) who buys an 8mm camera with which to film his newborn. The factory worker becomes obsessed with film, losing his old life to his new calling. When his wife announces she is leaving, the camera buff only can frame her departing figure with his fingers. Action! Some elements came from Kieslowski's life as a film student, his biographer Annette Insdorf reports in a brief but informative interview in the extras. The color images (full frame, enhanced) and sound are adequate. Subtitles are clear. This is one of four recent additions to Kino's Kieslowski collection -- along with "No End," "The Scar" and "Blind Chance" -- all of which show that the Polish master's writing and directing skills arrived almost fully formed when he turned to feature films. Each of the films benefits from a powerful central performance. They are products of the 1970s and '80s, a time of vast sociopolitical changes in Poland, but are not timepieces or attacks on the communists. Highly recommended."
Cosmoetica | New York, USA | 09/09/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Krzystof Kieslowski directed one of the more interesting self-reflexive films in 1979, when he filmed Camera Buff (Amator- literally Amateur), his second feature film, which runs an hour and fifty-two minutes. It is the one which made him a known commodity in the filmic world. While not a great film, it is a bit more successful a film than other fare from that era, such as his own Blind Chance, from 1981, and this film was a co-winner of the Grand Prize at the 1979 Moscow Film Festival, although that dubious festival's selections have long been known to be laughably bad, at their worst. As with many films made in countries with repressive countries, Camera Buff can get a bit didactic at times, but when it's not preaching it's a pretty good look at the art of filmmaking and the responsibility of an artist to himself and his art.
The tale is not a particularly fresh one, as it follows the life of a none too bright factory worker named Filip Mosz (Jerzy Stuhr, who later appears in White), a typically mousey Polish man who loves to drink, who is contented with his life as a husband and father of a newborn baby girl Irenka. However, when he decides to buy an 8 mm Russian camera, that costs two months of his salary, to record his daughter's childhood, his life quickly unravels. His wife Irka (Malgorzata Zabkowska) does not support his hobby, and selfishly wishes him ill. Eventually, she will leave him and take their child, even as she is pregnant with a second child. Hers is a character that is typical of the non-artistic mindset, as are the managers at the local factory he works for, as a nationwide buyer, who decide to underwrite his `hobby' so he can film company propaganda about their Twenty-Fifth Anniversary. That and his subsequent films are rather dull treatises on banal aspects of life in a state run system, but somehow they get nominated for film awards at a local festival the company submits them to. In truth, they are particularly unartful films, which only highlights the absurdity of their political potential in a system where total faith is required.
Kieslowski has a good deal of fun with both the pomposity of such film festival sponsors, mere apparatchiks who clearly have no idea of what real art is, as well as poking fun at the bad artist types themselves, represented by a fiery character called The Lunatic, who hisses and rages at all such films. Filip's film wins third prize at the festival; really second prize, since all of the films are judged not good enough for a first prize. This is manifest to the viewer, but even the declarer of such dour judgments is shown satirically as a boob, and orates far too pompously about art. Of course, Filip's films attract the interest of a woman named Anna Wlodarczyk (Ewa Pokas), who is a national film board honcho who has slept her way to the top and soon becomes Filip's lover, as well as real-life Polish filmmaker Krzystof Zanussi, who gets Filip's films on local Polish television news, after meeting and arguing of film aesthetics with him in Lodz. Especially successful is a film Filip does on the life of a dwarf at the company. That this man is contented with his dull and deprived life says much of the dehumanizing conditions of Communism, but it also exposes Filip to the increasing censorship of the director of his company. The premise of this trope is that the camera can never be neutral, and all art is political. Of course, this is a fallacy, but one employed as the engine that sets this film in motion, despite its logical weakness and triteness....Camera Buff is a film that gives hints at the greatness Kieslowski had within, but it was still a few years away, and, even though it's a better film than Blind Chance, it's one that is probably best viewed after the later masterpieces, for then even its failures can have some resonances as trial runs for things other films would succeed far better at. Would that more people learned so well from their youthful endeavors.
The story of a man making stories with films
Richard J. Brzostek | New England, USA | 07/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Camera Buff" (Amator) is an early work of Krzysztof Kieslowski, but one that shows he already exhibits talent as a master of drama. The story is about a young man (as played by Jerzy Stuhr) who is happy. He has a loving wife, a newborn baby, and a nice home. He gets an 8 mm video camera to record his daughter growing up, but it turns into a hobby with a life of its own. As he grows more successful in his endeavors, his wife becomes jealous. Although the story is straightforward, it is one that really draws you in and gets interesting right away.
As we watch the story of a man making stories with films, we can almost see that it is like playing god, but not one that is all-powerful. Ironically, all too often in life just as everything is going well in one area, something else falls apart. I think part of the appeal of the film has to due with the fact that we can relate with at least some of the messages. It doesn't portray life in some glamorized way, and I think the viewers can appreciate that.
"Amator" has that Kieslowski feeling to it and is a great film. I found the story to be unpredictable enough to keep me guessing, so it was thoroughly entertaining with its great acting and storyline. I highly recommend it to anyone that likes dramas, as this 1979 Kieslowski film is sure to delight them.