Visions of Light (1992) - News Poster


Denver Film Festival Premieres Emilie Upczak’s human trafficking drama ‘Moving Parts’

Denver native Emilie Upczak moved to Trinidad and Tobago and became Creative Director of the Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival where she worked for ten years. At that time, she not only helped set up the only Caribbean Film Industry Center but began making a fiction feature film about human trafficking.

She enlisted the prize winning Dp Nancy Schreiberwho also recently shot Ondi Timoner’s Robert Mapplethorpe biopic Mapplethorpe who was recently honored at the High Falls Film Festival, an annual event celebrating female filmmakers with the Susan B. Anthony “Failure is Impossible” Award “in recognition of her contributions to the art of filmmaking as one of the few female cinematographers working today.”

Moving Parts is about an illegal Chinese immigrant who, after being smuggled into Trinidad and Tobago to be with her brother, discovers the true cost of her arrival.

See the trailer here.

Emilie Upczak’s films reflect her
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Cannes 2016 Review: Close Encounters With Vilmos Zsigmond, A Sparkling Tribute

From the opening shot where the subject is adjusting the lighting, tweaking the seating height, futzing with back illumination and checking the camera's gamma, you know that Close Encounters With Vilmos Zsigmond is not an everyday documentary. But Vilmos Zsigmond isn't your everyday cinematographer, either, and in this one scene you can see him take a decent shot on digital video and make it just a bit more...perfect. We've seen plenty of docs on DOPs before, including the lovely survey film Visions of Light. As a tribute to the late filmmaker Close Encounters With Vilmos Zsigmond does an admirable job introducing the man's work over the span of decades with a series of clips and interviews. From a warm roundtable of American Society of...

[Read the whole post on]
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

Haskell Wexler, Oscar-Winning Cinematographer and Documentary Filmmaker, Dies at 93

Haskell Wexler, Oscar-Winning Cinematographer and Documentary Filmmaker, Dies at 93
Influential cinematographer and social documentarian Haskell Wexler, who won Oscars for his work in both arenas, has died. He was 93.

Wexler’s death on Sunday was confirmed with a post on the blog. His son Jeff shared via Facebook that Wexler died “peacefully in his sleep.”

“An amazing life has ended but his lifelong commitment to fight the good fight, for peace, for all humanity, will live on,” Jeff Wexler wrote.

Haskell Wexler won two Oscars for cinematography, for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in 1966 and for “Bound for Glory” 10 years later. He also picked up an Oscar in 1970 for the short documentary “Interview With My Lai Veterans,” directed with Richard Pearce.

Wexler also wrote, directed and largely financed two feature films, the highly politically charged “Medium Cool” in 1969 and “Latino” in 1985. He also directed 2007’s “From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks,” an adaptation of
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Interview: Gianni Bozzacchi on Cinephile-Oriented Doc “We Weren’t Just Bicycle Thieves. Neorealism”

To all cinephiles! This one is for you!

What a surprise was in store for us when we went to see “We Weren’t Just Bicycle Thieves. Neorealism” on its opening night of its qualifying run for Oscar submission in the documentary category.

The footage!

It took two and a half years to clear it all! The best scenes of Neorealistic cinema illustrate points on how Neorealism changed the lexicon and language of film in the same way that the Renaissance changed the visual language of art with linear perspective and its humanistic point of view.

The commentary!

Speaking about the influence of the Italian post-war Neorealism upon their filmmaking choices are Bertolucci, the Taviani Brothers, Scorsese, Olmi, Umberto Eco, Gabriel Garcia Marquez… the only reason Antonioni and Fellini did not speak was because they were no longer living when the movie was made. The interviews were not “talking heads”; they were conversations in which the great directors expressed their connections with Neorealism as they spoke to Carlo Lizzani.

Carlo Lizzani, the narrator and host of this documentary is an elegant 91 year old man who worked as scriptwriter, assistant director to every Neorealistic director and director in his own right. He starred in movies 1939-1954.

I loved him dancing in "Bitter Rice" (which he cowrote) with the women workers. That was the first Neorealistic movie I saw, dubbed on TV, when I was about eight. It was so puzzling to me, seeing this woman in a rice field with her skirt hiked up in a very provocative way, calling to someone with her words not matching her lips.

I really did not understand what sort of movie I was seeing… Similar to the first time I saw Chantal Akerman’s "Jane Dielman" which was rather Neorealistic too, though a product of the early ‘70s.

The production value!

The room, a fascinating “study” filled with objects of Neorealistic movies where the Lizzani seemed to belong was actually a room built from scratch by production designer Maurizio di Clemente within the walls of the oldest film school in Italy, Centro Sperimentale de Cine. When Lizzani opened windows, they looked out upon landscapes of these great Neorealistic movies. The technology of today was used in service of high art. Opening windows itself was a Neorealistic device.

The book!

You will want to read it all and show it off on your coffee table. Interviews, philosophic discussions, pictures and detailed listings of all the Neorealistic movies are splendidly displayed.

The education!

My view of cinema — both post war Italian cinema and today’s cinema shifted into an informed appreciation of how much Neorealism changed our vision of what a film could be.

Neorealism came to fruition with the rebirth of Italy after the war and lasted to 1954. Actually as Carlo Lizzani explains, it began in 1939 “with the first rumblings of an anti-fascist rebellion… as well as among many intellectuals and cineastes, increasingly unanimous in their refusal of so-called “White Telephone” cinema.”

“Before Neorealism, films were called ‘Bianchi Telefono’ after the white telephones that Hollywood movies showed in the so-called ‘White Telephone’ cinema for the way they featured Hollywood-style living rooms where that status symbol was invariably set center stage. It may have been a typical object in certain Hollywood mansions or Middle-European villa, but hardly in the average Italian home,” says Lizzani.

The interview!

Gianni Bozzacchi, the film’s director, writer and producer is a Renaissance man and his stories are funny, deeply moving and extremely interesting! This is someone you want to talk to for hours.

Watching this labor of love was an experience I will always treasure.

Rarely do we see a film about the art of film…Todd McCarthy’s "Visions of Light" comes to mind but others fade into PBS TV memories. This is a cinematic, highly technological and artistic feat. The Dp was Fabio Olmi the son of Ermanno Olmi.

After the screening, Bozzacchi stayed for a Q+A and the next day I continued to question him in the home of producer Jay Kanter where he was staying. After two and a half hours, I still wanted more. But the issue of condensing it all to a blog was weighing on me.

“Everything was planned and laid out in great detail, scripted and planned to the second so that filming 91 year old Lizanni for two hours a day took exactly 8 days to complete.”

Bozzacchi had previously made movies and in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He worked in Los Angeles with Greg Bautzer, who, for nearly 50 years, was one of the premier entertainment attorneys in Hollywood and with Kirk Kerkorian who needs no introduction. He wrote, directed and produced “I Love N.Y.” which was sold internationally by Walter Manley. It presold widely including to Australia where it played six weeks. But for the U.S. release, Manley edited it, and Bozzacchi moved away from it and took the DGA pseudonym, the credited name Alan Smithee.

Why did you leave filmmaking for so long?

I still remember that film, starring Christopher Plummer, Virna Lisi, Scott Baio, Jennifer O’Neill, but that was my last until “Neorealism”.

In 1986 I saw the industry was changing and I chose to step out in order to watch it as an outsider. What was ‘Show Business” was becoming a 'Business Show’. Marketing led to creating a show which led to creating a sales industry. “

“I decided to change direction and do only what I really wanted to do. I took ten years developing a big project ‘Oh Brave New World: The Renaissance’ for TV. It is now in pre-production. I thought of the Neorealism project and of The Enzo Ferrari story for which I now have a deal with Tribeca and Robert De Niro.

What did you do before you were a filmmaker?

I quit school at 13. From 1966 to 1974, at 20 I entered the jet set and became a photographer.

Elizabeth Taylor was shooting ‘The Comedians’ in Africa by Graham Greene. In Dahomy (today it’s Benin) they rebuilt part of Haiti. In the photo agency I worked no one wanted to go there, so I went. I knew Elizabeth Taylor’s face very well so I photographed her with light; no retouching was needed. After seeing a photo I took of her, Richard Burton said to me, ‘You want to join our family? Elizabeth needs you.’ I only spoke Roman, no English. I worked with her for 14 years and her two kids were my assistants. I also worked on 162 films as a special photographer, reading the scripts and shooting scenes for magazine layouts, working with “the making of the film” format.

It was when I stopped as a photographer in ‘75 that I began to think of producing films like the cult film “ China 9, Liberty 37” directed by Monte Hellman and starring Sam Peckinpah, Warren Oates and Fabio Testi and I wrote a book ExpoXed Memory about my life.

There is a relationship of all my projects to Neorealism, and of Neorealism to the Renaissance. All our projects are ready to go.

What are you doing in L.A.?

We have formed a new company with producer Jay Kanter and other partners who love film rather than the business of film. “We Weren’t Just Bicycle Thieves: Neorealismo” is the first to come out of the gate.

“The Listener” is the next project I will direct. It is based on the semi-autobiographical book, Operation Appia Way, by the Italian politician Giulio Andreotti. Andreotti served as Prime Minister of Italy seven terms since the restoration of democracy in 1946.

Yes he was the subject of Paolo Sorrentino’s film “Il Divo”. The book is about phone tapping, abuse of power and violations of personal privacy as is so often employed in politic, spying, etc. Andreotti had studied to be a priest but became a politician and this is about the birth of wire tapping which took place in the Roman catacombs and tapped the phones of Pope Pius Xii in conversations with Churchill, Churchill and the King of Italy, Mussolini and Hitler, Roosevelt and the Pope. The scenarios alternate between New York and Rome today and flashbacks to past times.

The production coordinator of “Neorealismo”, Julia Eleanora Rei, also has a project on Eleanora Duse and Gabriel D’Annunzio. Known as ‘Duse’, this Italian actress is known for her words of wit and wisdom, ‘The weaker partner in a marriage is the one who loves the most’ and ‘When we grow old, there can only be one regret – not to have given enough of ourselves’. She is also known for her long romantic involvement with the poet and writer, the controversial Gabriele D’Annunzio. They are now targeting a star for the film, although, says Bozzacchi, ‘Today the script is the star’.

What films are most important to you?

Those shown in this documentary, especially "Open City" where the scene of shooting down Anna Magnani still makes me feel angry.

Every week the Neorealistic filmmakers met in a café or restaurant. They did not have lots of money, had only one camera and not much film. But they created a way to tell a story very realistically, hiding the camera and shooting the people as they are.

Cary Grant pleaded De Sica to star in ‘The Bicycle Thief’, but he would have disrupted the Neorealist aspect; he was too recognizable. In the scene where three men stop the thief , other citizens joined in thinking it was real. If they saw it was Cary Grant, the scene never could have happened. The little boy in the film, played by Enzo Staiola, was scared the mob would turn on him.”

It was surprising to see Enzo Staiola in conversation during the movie. He said that ‘De Sica invented this whole story about how he made me cry. When I looked at him in surprise, he said: ‘Don’t worry, it’s just cinema…you’ll understand later’.

They also changed the way to shoot in sequence, called ‘piano sequenza’. Before a film was done in steps, with a storyboard, with cuts, three camera povs. Actors and the camera depended on the director. Now the camera follows the actor as he or she moves. This went from Rossellini to Fellini who always used the system; but Fellini, who shows a new reborn Italy, did not want direct sound. Fellini directs saying, ‘pick up drink’ or ‘turn right’ or ‘look left’ and then afterward he would add the sound. He showed Italy out of war time in ‘La Dolce Vita’.

What happened after ‘Neorealism’?

Pontecorvo was born in the time of Neorealism and he brought it to Algiers (‘Battle of Algiers’). He was going to make a doc there but then decided on fiction. He wrote notes on his hand.

Who were the French, German and U.S. adherents to Neorealism?

Truffaut and Melville, Wim Wenders with ‘American Friend’ and ‘Paris, Texas’, Coppola with ‘Apocalypse Now’. Cassavetes was a producer of Neorealism; he took it to his era. Scorsese did with ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Mean Streets’.

What do we see about Neorealism today?

If you really love movies, with all of today’s technology, you must bring in realism. With the new technology there will be a new wave of new realism. New filmmakers are very straight. Honesty and realism on the screen will come out. We’re at the sea floor now, coming back. Tell me a story that I can feel and see emotion…that is the legacy of Neorealism.

The final scene was great ...

There was a great sense of collaboration on this film.

What made that so related to Neorealism?

Neorealism also had the full participation of everyone. Directors heard and listened to the community. Clint Eastwood does this too. He would be great directing the Ferrari movie…depending on the script of course.

I love you story about the dog being an actor who allowed for transitions and covered discontinuities in film.

What about catering Italian style?

Take a look at the film's trailer Here.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

Gordon Willis: Shining a light on Hollywood's 'Prince of Darkness'

Gordon Willis: Shining a light on Hollywood's 'Prince of Darkness'
Often called “The Prince of Darkness” for his tendency to artfully cloak onscreen characters in ominous shadows, cinematographer Gordon Willis was the closest thing Hollywood had to a Rembrandt. His playful visual style, daring use of chiaroscuro, and seemingly effortless ability to conjure a mood of unsettling paranoia made him the ideal Director of Photography for the 1970s — a glorious filmmaking decade when Technicolor artifice was swept aside for New Hollywood naturalism.

Whether working with Francis Ford Coppola on The Godfather saga, Alan J. Pakula on his dizzying Watergate-era conspiracy thrillers All The President’s Men and The Parallax View,
See full article at - Inside Movies »

The Godfather and Manhattan Cinematographer Gordon Willis Dead at 82

Cinematographers never get enough credit.  Their so crucial to a film's success, but if you mention their names to casual filmgoers, they'll probably give you a blank stare.  Variety reports that Gordon Willis, the cinematographer behind some of cinema's best films, passed away at the age of 82.  Willis was a giant of 1970s cinema, and helped to create some of Hollywood's all-time classics including The Godfather, Annie Hall, Klute, Manhattan, and All the President's Men.  To quote The Playlist's obituary, "Willis' greatest gift was in collaborating with the filmmakers he worked with on evoking that intangible mood for each of their pictures."  Willis' last film was 1997 was Alan J. Pakula's The Devil's Own after which he retired due to his failing eyesight. Hit the jump to check out some clips from Willis' films and an interview with the master cinematographer.  Our deepest condolences go out to Mr. Willis' family and friends.
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Gordon Willis, 'Godfather' Cinematographer, Dead at 82

Gordon Willis, 'Godfather' Cinematographer, Dead at 82
Legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis, the "Prince of Darkness" who was responsible for the look of such era-defining films of the Seventies as the first two Godfather films, All the President's Men, Annie Hall and Manhattan, died Sunday at the age of 82, according to Variety. His cause of death was not listed.

Peter Travers on 'The Godfather' Trilogy

A native of Queens, New York, Willis cultivated an early interest in photography and, while serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, joined the motion-picture unit. After the war,
See full article at Rolling Stone »

Jon Favreau Discusses Star Wars, Jungle Book, Swingers, Rudy, Marvel, and More!

Director Jon Favreau recently took part in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session to talk about all the incredible things he has done in his career. I'm a huge fan of Favreau, and I have been since I saw Swingers. It's pretty awesome to see how far he's come in his career, and there's no doubt that he worked his ass off to get to the place where he's at.

I went ahead and pulled some of the things that he talked about during the Q&A. He talked about his next film Jungle Book, Star Wars, Swingers, Rudy, Iron Man, Marvel, Ben Affleck as Batman, Dinner for Five, and more! If you're a fan of Favreau's work, this is definitely worth checking out because it's an entertaining read.

You can read through the entire Q&A right here if you want.

Jungle Book casting update:

"We’re currently in
See full article at GeekTyrant »

Camerimage Announces Competition Juries

Camerimage, the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography, has announced today its full jury roster for the upcoming festival, running November 16 to 23 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. The names include directors Jos Stelling and Albert Hughes, Oscar-nominated cinematographers Caleb Deschanel, Ed Lachman, Tom Stern, Stuart Dryburgh and Jost Vacano and many more. Jury members of the main competition jury are Oscar nominee Tom Stern, cinematographer ( Million Dollar Baby , Gran Torino , The Hunger Games ); Oscar nominee Ed Lachman, cinematographer ( Erin Brockovich , The Virgin Suicides , I.m Not There ); Todd McCarthy, journalist and film critic ( Visions of Light , Corman.s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel ); Primetime Emmy nominee Denis Lenoir, cinematographer (...
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Reel Ink #3 June 2013 – New Books on Film

  • HeyUGuys
A periodic round up of interesting and notable books about film, including biographies, histories, critical assessments, and more.

I have to confess from the off that, apart from Daniel Day-Lewis’ typically spellbinding performance (if that’s even the right word for what he does) and the meticulous detail and cinematography that made the film a joy to look at, Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln left me rather cold; perhaps if I had read Lincoln: A Cinematic and Historical Companion (Disney Editions, distributed in the UK by Turnaround beforehand, my viewing experience would have been richer and more rewarding.

The book opens with earnest forewards by Spielberg and producer Kathleen Kennedy, and is thereafter divided into two sections, each in two parts. Part One, ‘Players on the Stage of History’, features full page colour photos of the film’s main players in the style of 19th century portraiture, which
See full article at HeyUGuys »

Ridm 2012: The Sound on Sight Staff Preview

The Montreal International Documentary Festival (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal – Ridm) starts on Wednesday, November 7th. My Dad worked for the National Film Board for 30 years in Montreal, Ottawa, Fredericton, Halifax and Montreal (again). Growing up as an Nfb brat was to grow up breathing the language of cinema and to believe passionately that the divisions between animation, documentary, short films and features were artificial – like pretending that vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream weren’t different flavours, but completely different species of frozen milk-based desserts.

That said, there is no denying that the general public believes in that artificial division and that documentary film suffers from it, so Ridm, Québec’s only documentary film festival is our best local opportunity to show some love to documentaries. I would urge anyone in Montreal to take a chance and check out some of the films that Ridm is programming.
See full article at SoundOnSight »

‘These Amazing Shadows’ (documentary)

Reviewed by Jeremy Mathews

(from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival)

Directed by: Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton

Featuring: Jay Carr, Peter Coyote, Julie Dash, Caleb Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel, Robert A. Harris, Amy Heckerling, Jennifer Horne, Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Mick Lasalle, John Lasseter, Leonard Maltin, Christopher Nolan, Rob Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Tim Roth, James Schamus, Paul Schrader, John Singleton, George Takei, Wayne Wang and John Waters

The only requirement for a film to be put on the National Film Registry of the United States is that it be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” The great thing about these requirements, according to one board member interviewed in the documentary “These Amazing Shadows,” is that they make it possible for anything to qualify. The registry is an eclectic bunch of films selected to be preserved in the Library of Congress and includes everything from obvious classics like “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane” and “The Godfather
See full article at Moving Pictures Network »

‘These Amazing Shadows’ (documentary)

Reviewed by Jeremy Mathews

(from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival)

Directed by: Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton

Featuring: Jay Carr, Peter Coyote, Julie Dash, Caleb Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel, Robert A. Harris, Amy Heckerling, Jennifer Horne, Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Mick Lasalle, John Lasseter, Leonard Maltin, Christopher Nolan, Rob Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Tim Roth, James Schamus, Paul Schrader, John Singleton, George Takei, Wayne Wang and John Waters

The only requirement for a film to be put on the National Film Registry of the United States is that it be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” The great thing about these requirements, according to one board member interviewed in the documentary “These Amazing Shadows,” is that they make it possible for anything to qualify. The registry is an eclectic bunch of films selected to be preserved in the Library of Congress and includes everything from obvious classics like “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane” and “The Godfather
See full article at Moving Pictures Magazine »

Nelson to Host Sundance Awards; Festival Juries Announced

Actor Tim Blake Nelson will host the awards ceremony at the Sundance Film Festival, which also announced Tuesday the members of the five juries that will determine the winners. The festival runs from Jan. 20-30; the awards will be handed out the evening of Jan. 29. (The Short Film Awards will be named earlier at a ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at Park City’s Jupiter Bowl.)

The complete list of jurors follows, with bios provided by the festival.

U.S. Documentary Jury

Jeffrey Blitz

Jeffrey’s film career started in 2002 with the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning documentary “Spellbound.” His fiction feature debut, “Rocket Science,” became his first to play the festival (Sundance, 2007; Dramatic Directing Award). He has also directed the documentary “Lucky,” (Sundance, 2010) and multiple episodes of NBC’s “The Office.” In 2009, he won the Emmy for comedy directing.

Matt Groening

Matt Groening created the longest-running comedy in television history, “The Simpsons.” As a cartoonist,
See full article at Moving Pictures Network »

A Bright Future (Measured in Lumens)

by Vadim Rizov

When permanent technological changes are predicted to rev from 0 to 60mph in the next five years, it's best not to hold your breath. With digital projection, things haven't just progressed but apexed in record time. In 2005, early adopter theaters would tout their brand-new digital projectors as a special attraction. Now, seeing a movie in 35mm in Manhattan—if you want to be a super-purist—requires considerable cunning and advance planning for mainstream films, and may not even be possible. (That goes double for 3D movies: if you don't want to pay extra and want to watch the flat version, you had better act fast.) The rest of the country hasn't quite upgraded yet (and the arthouses are even slower), but just wait: the digital revolution, after years of excitable hype, is finally on the ground, with 16,000 screens worldwide (15% and counting, but far more noticeable in metropolitan areas).

For the most part,
See full article at GreenCine Daily »

Rip: Cinematographer William Fraker

One of Hollywood's great cinematographers, William Fraker, succumbed to cancer Monday at age 86. While D.P.'s can be cranky, Fraker was known for his affability and exacting standards on sets, from Rosemary's Baby, Bullitt, 1941, Close Encounters and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to Tombstone and Heaven Can Wait. A Naval veteran of World War II, Fraker attended USC's School of Cinema under the G.I. Bill. He grew into one of the defining film talents to emerge in the 60s and worked productively well into his 80s: his last film was 2002's Waking Up in Reno. Update: Todd McCarthy remembers Fraker, who he interviewed for his doc Visions of Light. Here's one obit from the Lat plus stories from Fraker's contemporaries from the American Society ...
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

Variety: This thumb's for you

I flew home from the Oscars to find half a dozen e-mails awaiting with the same unbelievable message: Variety had fired its chief film critic, Todd McCarthy. Its spokesman was hopeful Todd and its chief theater critic, David Rooney, who was also fired, could continue to review for the paper on a free lance basis. In other words, Variety was hopeful that without a regular pay check, McCarthy would put his life on hold to do a full-time job on a piecemeal basis.

Todd McCarthy reviewed films for Variety for 31 years. He was the ideal critic for the paper -- better, we now realize, than it deserved. His reviews and the reviews of Kirk Honeycutt at the Hollywood Reporter were frequently the first reviews of a new film to see print. Honeycutt fortunately continues.

Films are traditionally screened for the "trades" before anyone else. Historically, when independent theater owners around
See full article at Roger Ebert's Blog »

See also

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