Director David Lynch heaped praise on Poland’s Plus Camerimage festival as he picked up a lifetime achievement award - and Keanu Reeves spoke a little Polish.

Walking on stage at the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz to the Twin Peaks theme, the surrealist director of Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive was met with a standing ovation by the 1,000-strong audience.

“This is so moving,” said Lynch. “The Camerimage gang have been my friends since 2000 – even though when I first came here they lost my luggage.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to this great festival on its 20th anniversary. Every year this festival gets better and better.

“Long live cinema! Long live Camerimage film festival!”

Earlier in the opening ceremony, which showcased the juries and entries for this year’s coveted Golden Frog awards, Lynch was presented the key to the city by mayor Rafal Bruski.

“In Poland, the symbol of being a good host is to give the keys to one’s own house,” said the mayor. “In the hands of David Lynch, the city will be safe… and I can spend the time watching movies.”

Accepting the key, Lynch warned: “It is dangerous to give me the keys to your city – but this is beautiful.”

The director, whose last feature was Inland Empire in 2006, is attending the festival for a retrospective of his films. An exhibition of his lithographs is also being shown as part of the event.

Keanu Reeves

The opening film of the festival, which runs until Dec 1, was the Keanu Reeves-produced documentary Side by Side.

The Matrix actor stepped up, ahead of the screening, to showcase the nominees for the two “debut” competitions.

“It’s my privilege to introduce the Plus Camerimage cinematographer debut competition,” said Reeves, before TV presenter and host for the evening Grażyna Torbicka added: “Shall we do it in Polish?”

Following a tentative “Let’s try,” Reeves struggled with some of the longer words but drew rapturous applause for the effort.

Side by Side, which explores the decline of film stock in the wake of digital, was followed by the Polish premiere of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Plus Camerimage first launched in 1993. The first seven editions of the festival were held in Torun. In 2000, founder and festival director Mark Żydowicz moved the event to Lodz and settled on its current home of Bydgoszcz in 2010.