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Martin Scorsese, Dennis Hopper, Mark Rydell, Owen Roizman and Haskell Wexler are among the film industry veterans slated to be interviewed for inclusion in a new documentary about two of the community’s most influential directors of photography, Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond.
In production, “Laszlo & Vilmos: The Story of Two Refugees Who Changed the Look of American Cinema” is being written and helmed by director of photography James Chressanthis.
While living in Budapest during their youth, Kovacs and Zsigmond famously documented events of the Hungarian Revolution and carried the film on a risky, dangerous journey across the Austrian border. They arrived in the U.S. as political refugees from Hungary in February 1956 and went on to become prominent DPs.
Kovacs’ credits include “Paper Moon” and “Easy Rider”; Zsigmond’s credits include “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “The Deer Hunter.”
The pair influenced Chressanthis while he was an AFI film student and when he served as an intern on the Zsigmond-lensed “The Witches of Eastwick.”
Chressanthis recalled that one day Zsigmond called for a long lunch, as it was the 30th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. Visitors arrived for wine and a special lunch. “Laszlo and Vilmos presided,” Chressanthis said. “They toasted the spirit of the revolution, those who had given their lives, the family and friends ‘who we will never see again.’ Little did any of us know that three years later, the Iron Curtain would fall, and Laszlo and Vilmos would be reunited with their country.
“I was struck that day by the beauty and the optimism and generosity of spirit these two men displayed; their affection and love for each other impressed me deeply. That moment was the genesis for the film,” Chressanthis said.
An NC Motion Pictures production, the film is being produced by Chressanthis, Zachary Kranzler and Kian Soleimanpour. David Kaminsky will co-produce.
Executive producer is James D. Conroy II.
Anka Malatynska will serve as director of photography, and Elisa Bonora is the film’s editor. Bob Fisher is consulting.
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