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USA, 2008, 97 Minute Running Time
Program: Documentary FilmsLanguage: English
DIRECTOR: James Chressanthis
Producer: (executive) Jimmy Conroy II, Zachary W. Kranzler, Tony Frere, Kian SoleimanpourEditor: Elisa BonaraScreenwriter: James ChressanthisCinematographer: Anka MalatynskaPrincipal Cast: Barbra Streisand, Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, Jon Voight, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda
For James Chressanthis, the great cinematographers László Kovács and Vilmos Zsigmond are not distant legends. They are the artists who inspired him to become a cameraman too. In that sense, he owes them his life.
But this vivid double portrait is more than a valentine. In No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos, Chressanthis reveals how a pair of Hungarian refugees who caught on film their compatriots’ doomed 1956 uprising against the Soviets (a feat further explored in Torn From the Flag, also showing at this year’s festival) made their way to Hollywood as “Leslie” and “Willie.” And then they helped transform the American movie industry. Kovács scored his breakthrough when he signed on to shoot the counterculture classics Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces; later came the likes of What’s Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Shampoo, Mask, and Ghostbusters. Inspired by Impressionist painting, Zsigmond has assembled an incredible list of credits, including McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Deliverance, The Deer Hunter, and, perhaps most dazzling, Close Encounters of the Third Kind—for which he earned an Oscar, though Steven Spielberg had fired and rehired him at least five times during the shoot. Still, the countrymen’s profound friendship, forged in adversity, is the greater story here. “These are two brothers,” asserts interviewee Richard Donner (director of the Lethal Weapon series, who worked with Kovács on Radio Flyer). Among the pair’s other onscreen admirers: Sharon Stone, Peter Fonda, Jon Voight, Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Hopper, and Barbra Streisand. To end on a somber note: Kovács died on July 24, 2007; Chressanthis’s documentary is dedicated to him.
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