Oscar-winning editor and ACE vice president Alan Heim was feted this past December at the Plus Camerimage International Festival of the Art of Cinematography. The festival, which was celebrating its twentieth anniversary, presented Heim with Its “Award to an Editor with Unique Visual Sensibility,” and honored him with a retrospective series of screenings. Heim also served as head of the jury in the Polish films competition.
The festival is held annually in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and is focused on cinematography and its practitioners. Awards are also given to key collaborators of the director of photography. This year’s honorees also included Lifetime Achievement laureate Vadim Yusov, the Russian cinematographer best known for his work on the early films of Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, Andrei Rublev, Ivan’s Childhood), the documentary filmmaker Steven Okazaki (White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street), and David Lynch.
In the main competition, the Golden Frog was awarded to War Witch cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc; the Silver Frog was awarded to Holy Motors cinematographer Caroline Champetier, AFC; and the Bronze Frog was awarded to Rhino Season cinematographer Touraj Aslani.
Regarding the recognition, Heim says, “It’s wonderful. It’s a great honor. I’ve won an Academy Award and been nominated. I’ve won an Emmy and the British Academy Award, but this is just very moving to me at my stage of life. It’s really absolutely terrific.”
Heim spoke at an extended question-and-answer session following a screening of All That Jazz, one of his collaborations with Bob Fosse, and the film that won him an Oscar. That film’s cinematographer, Giuseppe Rotunno, ASC, AIC, took home an Academy Award nomination. In all, the movie won four Oscars and was nominated for five more, including best picture and best director.
“Giuseppe was a wonderful, wonderful man, as most people know, he was Fellini’s main cinematographer,” said Heim. “Bob Fosse loved Fellini and he loved Fellini’s movies. This was an interesting situation because Peppino didn’t speak much English. The film, when I finished cutting it, needed massive color corrections, but still each shot and each day’s dailies were beautiful. I don’t usually have a lot of contact with cinematographers, but it was clear what he was going for. He is an incredibly talented cinematographer. It was one of the nicest experiences I’ve ever had. In fact, he had a great sense of humor.”
In one scene, Heim had a cameo and a line. “Peppino lit me from the bottom and he said, ‘I’m lighting you like one of Fellini’s whores.’ And I was flattered!”
When Heim’s scene came up in the editing room, he told Fosse that the scene was awful. “Bob said to me, ‘How could I let you do that? You’re not very good in that scene.’ I said, ‘Bob, I’m not an actor.’ And he said, ‘But you’re a human being! I should be able to get a better performance out of a human being.’ And I said to him, ‘That’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me in two weeks,’ and we both had a good laugh.”
Being honored at the festival was an occasion for looking back, but Heim is quick to add that he is still working, and considering several prospective projects.