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Camera Buff
cast: Jerzy Stuhr, and Malgorzata Zabkowska

writer and director: Krzysztof Kieslowski

106 minutes (PG) 1979
aspect ratio 1.33:1
Artificial Eye DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Thomas Cropper
You might think that a film shot against the backdrop of communist Poland would not be the most glamorous - and you'd be right. From Krzysztof Kieslowski comes a bleak 1979 fable about the dangers and responsibilities of becoming a filmmaker.
   Filip, brilliantly played by Jersy Stuhr, finds new horizons when he purchases a 8mm camera to film his new baby. The new object causes something of a stir among his friends and colleagues and pretty soon he's been commissioned to film the company's 25th anniversary celebrations. The film wins him third prize at a film festival and from then on there's no stopping him. His wife and his new daughter take a backseat as he throws himself into this new passion and before long he's the centre of attention. He starts a new club and is even invited over to meet the bosses, but as he embarks on new projects trouble starts brewing.
   When his next film about a handicapped member of the workforce attracts the attention of a television channel his ogre of a boss is not happy. Furthermore his wife is becoming increasingly threatened by his new obsession and as his career progresses, so his marriage falls apart.
   Most will know Kieslowski from his Three Colours trilogy, but this earlier effort projects a much harsher, critical vision of reality. Camera Buff (aka: Amator) is sprinkled with insightful, ironic and occasionally delightful touches, from his friend who brings the baby home in his hearse to the drinking binge he embarks on when to celebrate the birth. The plant bosses are suitably menacing and their dogmatic censorship of his work is subtly representative of the wider political spectrum. Stuhr produces a magnificent performance as the repressed and awkward Filip striving for recognition, status and recognition that is always going to be a little too far out of his reach.
   The whole DVD package is fulfilling and interesting to match the full feature. There are interviews, a short documentary and a filmography. For those who want to explore Kieslowski's work, beyond the Three Colours trilogy, this is an excellent place to start.

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