How Renato Bertha met David Watkin in 2004

My meeting with David: I was part of a jury at the 2004 edition of Cameraimage.

We were all staying in a particularly depressing hotel where the smell of fried foods was everywhere.
In the morning, while I was having breakfast, a man, who appeared both to be of a certain maturity yet also youthful at the same time and who had a lock of hair hanging down over his forehead as if he’d just got out of bed, armed with a large cup of muesli in one hand and two empty soup bowls in the other, asked me if the place alongside mine was occupied.

He sat down, put some muesli into one of the empty bowls and then very methodically took the raisons, one by one, and placed them on the table. He then transferred the raisonless muesli into the second empty bowl before pouring the remains of the cup into the now vacated first bowl and began the process all over again.
His gestures appeared to be so certain and meticulous, yet also gracious and delicate that I was intrigued. He was so completely absorbed by his actions that I couldn’t even manage to catch his eye.
I realised that I had to find another way to communicate with him.

I returned to the table with my food in addition to three raisons which I placed on a plate and offered to him. We began to speak.
“Thank you.”
“A pleasure.”
“I noticed that you have a passion for raisons.”
“Yes, absolutely, I have a passion for them because I don’t like them.”
The irony of this absurd dialogue in a very anglicized French added to my desire to get to know him.
We introduced ourselves. Since that moment we often met during our stay in Poland and we had some wonderful times together talking about everything and not only our common professions.

I was fascinated by his problems with production directors as when he was shooting away from home, he always asked for an extra room for his piano, which he played everyday and which was so important to him. After the time in Lodz, we exchanged some mails and I promised him on more than one occasion that I’d visit him in England, but unfortunately for a combination of a lack of time, laziness and stupidity, I never kept my promise: I really regret never having gone and now I shall regret it even more.

David, besides being a cameraman, was a profoundly humane person, cultured and innately elegant but not the modern and highly efficient way which so often appears hypocritical and merely calculating. No, he was a real authentic, a quality of great rarity in these times of ours. Now, every morning, for my breakfast, I eat a plate of muesli.

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