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Happy 100th ARRI!

Very honored to take part in three interviews for Arri’s 100th Anniversary. Check out this segment about No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos

László Kovács ASC and Vilmos Zsigmond ASC

https://100.arri.com/interviews/event/59980e65f0c74b7d49b61f6c

 

 

 

Seeds of Change – Dance Film – 8K Panavision Millennium DXL Camera

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img_4485 img_4446 img_4168 img_4141SEEDS of CHANGE on vimeo CLICK HERE                          When I was approached by Panavision and Light Iron to test a prototype of their new 8K Millennium DXL camera I leaped at the opportunity to create something that was beyond a dry studio exercise. For cinematographers, David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” photographed by Freddie Young, BSC is a touchstone for its remarkable 65mm images. That story was made in and about an era that focused almost solely on men. In making a film today with a digital equivalent of that 65mm camera, I felt it should portray the strength, beauty and power of women. The music Seeds of Change by Naser Musa and Steve Wood inspired Melanie and our dancers when we filmed on the mountainside of Trust Ranch in Topanga. What we created is sacred, sensual and ecstatic all at once.

Words cannot express my deep thanks to everyone who contributed to the splendor of this project.

SEEDS of CHANGE
Director-Cinematographer – James Chressanthis, ASC, GSC
Choreographer – Melanie Kareem

Dancers – Laura Cutler, Vanessa Frazier, Melanie Kareem, Diana Mathur, Rachel Moore, Dawn Marie Yurkovic

Music composed by Naser Musa and Steve Wood                   Solo Oud – Naser Musa, Keyboards & Guitar – Steve Wood, Qanoon – James Grippo, Violin – George Hamad, Percussion – Petro Al Ammar, Faisal Zedaan, Mastering – Joe Gaswirt

Produced by James Chressanthis and Melanie Kareem

Chief Lighting Technician – Ricky Lewis
1st Assistant Camera – Greg Williams, Darin Miller                 2nd Assistant Camera – Laura Odermatt
Makeup & Hair – Penelope Irwin                                             Still Photography – Robin Becker, Michael Cioni
Production Manager – Jesse Liliedahl                                     Production Assistant – Gaea Adrian
8k Post Production by Light Iron-Hollywood                         Colorist – Jeremy Sawyer
Panavision Millennium DXL Camera & Primo 70mm Lenses
Special Thanks: Sue & Martin Schmitt, Trust Ranch,                 Dan Sasaki, Bob Harvey, Michael Cioni, Amit Dave

SEEDS of CHANGE
Filmed in Heaven – Topanga, California
© 2016 James Chressanthis and Melanie Kareem

Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC 1930-2016

We miss Vilmos. A brave man, cinematic genius, a great artist and a generous, humble spirit.

Vilmos Meters As film students in Hungary, Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond took to the war-torn streets of Budapest to shoot footage of the Russian invasion. They subsequently volunteered to smuggle it out of the country. Barely escaping with their lives, the two friends fled to America and settled in Hollywood.

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After working in the underbelly of Hollywood for ten years on a string of low-budget horror and   biker movies, both men soon rose to prominence in the late 60’s and 70’s, shooting the films    that defined what came to be known as the American New Wave: with Laszlo lensing breakout classics like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Shampoo and Paper Moon and Vilmos framing The Hired Hand, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Deliverance, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Deer Hunter among many more. Working with directors including Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, they helped create a new American film aesthetic, and pioneered innovative, fearless ways to tell stories.

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Told through interviews with Laszlo (who died during the making of the film) and Vilmos, as well as directors including Rafelson, Bogdanovich, John Boorman, Graeme Clifford, Richard Donner, William Richert, Mark Rydell, composer John Williams and actors such as Jon Voight, Peter Fonda, Sandra Bullock, Karen Black, Sharon Stone and Dennis Hopper in one of his last feature film appearances.

“When it comes to Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond, it’s clear that the American New Wave of the late 1960’s and early ’70s wouldn’t have flowered as it did without them.”  – Leonard  Maltin

No Subtitles Necessary is an intimate portrait of two giants of modern image making and their deep bond of brotherhood that transcended every imaginable boundary. Two Heroes. One Road.

 

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Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC 1930-2016

Show Extended to May 27, 2015 – Chressanthis@Alternative

By popular demand Chressanthis@Alternative has been extended to Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Alternative Rentals Digital Cinema Los Angeles

5805 W. Jefferson Blvd. Los Angeles 90016

Call (310) 204-3388 for appointment Monday through Friday 10:00 to 5:00 pm

image below: “Bolex Drive Carefully” (2015) mixed media on Niyodo and Mohachi kozo paper

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“I always look where the ancient and traditional intersect with the archetypal and modern.”

Using traditional photographic techniques, digital tools, painting and drawing Chressanthis combines images from around the world: Europe, Greece, Russia, Thailand and across North America. Subjects are as varied as shepherds living on a mountaintop beneath an ancient temple, a Muslim family in coastal Thailand, a rapper and his crew in Oaktown California, the people living at the end of the Trans Siberian railway, the estuaries of Eastern Quebec, Nomads in Mongolia who carry a satellite dish with them.

artist website: http://www.chressanthis.com/
Alternative website: http://www.alternativerentals.com/

image below: “Bella Medea Pink” (2013) pigment ink print on Somerset cotton rag paper

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Reception Photos: Chressanthis@Alternative – May 9, 2015

Top: James Chressanthis talks with photographer Douglas Kirkland

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Singer-Songwriter Billy Joseph

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Chressanthis@Alternative

This  “Flash Exhibition” is open Sunday, May 10, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and May 11-15 by appointment.

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Using traditional photographic techniques, digital tools, painting and drawing Chressanthis combines images from around the world: Europe, Greece, Russia, Thailand and across North America. Subjects are as varied as shepherds living on a mountaintop beneath an ancient temple, a Muslim family in coastal Thailand, a rapper and his crew in Oaktown California, the people living at the end of the Trans Siberian railway, the estuaries of Eastern Quebec, Nomads in Mongolia who carry a satellite dish with them.

“I always look where the ancient and traditional intersect with the archetypal and modern.”

artist website: http://www.chressanthis.com/
Alternative website: http://www.alternativerentals.com/   

Chressanthis@Alternative – Saturday, May 9, 2015

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Cinematographer and artist, James Chressanthis, ASC, GSC will be mounting an installation of his large scale mixed media and photographic works.

Alternative Digital Cinema, 5805 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles – Tel: (310) 204-3388

Reception: Saturday May 9, 2015 from 3:00 to 8:00 pm.

This is a “Flash Exhibition” and will be open Sunday, May 10, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and May 11-15 by appointment only.

Using traditional photographic techniques, digital tools, painting and drawing Chressanthis combines images from around the world: Europe, Greece, Russia, Thailand and across North America. Subjects are as varied as shepherds living on a mountaintop beneath an ancient temple, a Muslim family in coastal Thailand, a rapper and his crew in Oaktown California, the people living at the end of the Trans Siberian railway, the estuaries of Eastern Quebec, Nomads in Mongolia who carry a satellite dish with them.

“I always look where the ancient and traditional intersect with the archetypal and modern.”

artist website: http://www.chressanthis.com/
Alternative website: http://www.alternativerentals.com/   

image above: Bella Medea Pink  (2013) pigment ink print on Somerset cotton rag paper

Reprise from 2010: Vladivostok: A Soviet Time Machine

Vladivostok Train Station

Vladivostok Train Station – the end of the Trans Siberian Railway its cornerstone was laid by Czar Nicholas and actor Yule Brynner’s grandfather. I walked Vladivostok looking everywhere. I can’t read any signs so I focus completely on the people, what they are doing, details of dress, what they carry, their energy. It’s busy here, jammed with traffic but as packed as the streets are the sidewalks flow with people, most walk with purpose, the ones that wait sit with intention.The light is amazing, a silky veil of marine clouds softens the edges, it often glows. I’m shooting a black and white photographic portrait so in keeping with this city’s face: harbor, ships, train station, shopping districts, pedestrian underpasses filled with little shops, new construction everywhere beside decaying buildings and crumbling roads, passageways, begging bubuschas and striking, gorgeous fashionistas (are all the Russian women so beautiful?) strutting on amazing heels, North Korean laborers digging with picks and shovels, choking traffic jams of Japanese cars, army trucks and smoky diesel buses, the whole city a fifties Soviet time machine pasted with gaudy billboards, bustling with the brightly dressed carrying Blackberries and iPhones.

I conduct a filmmaking seminar workshop at Far Eastern State Technical University. The students are bright, friendly and optimistic. They smile so much I kid them that they defy the stereotype of dour Russian pessimism. They laugh at that, they want to be free of their Soviet baggage and the opening of my film reminds them of their grandparents world only half known through the propaganda of official history versus first hand accounts. You get the feeling they want to throw that deadweight overboard but can’t. I point out parallels in the American experience that they have to “own” their history to ultimately be free of it (or free of repeating it). Through their lives Laszlo and Vilmos show us that out of great tragedy can come great art and beauty and ultimately forgiveness and renewal. When talk turns to the corporate and political oligarchs or Putin, an unspoken tension arises, looks and shrugs acknowledging that this is the big problem and challenge of their time.

Cinema is the universal language, its inherently natural to communicate with images, ever more so with each succeeding generation. The seminar becomes a workshop, I gather everyone in a tight group. Our camera has a live feed to a large flat screen monitor and we review the grammar of shot making, that we all grasp, even if we have not analyzed how we see movies and television. I tell them first of all that they already have a deep grasp of the language of images and cinema and we know how to read them as well as we do our native language. The camera is a pointing device; you point it at what is important. It is free to move and point at anything your own mind decides: “This girl’s hand writing a note panning up to her face watching the class, panning over to this man’s face watching her, panning to the rest of the group.” We quickly review all the kinds of shots and angles we can make without restriction: wide angle, telephoto detail, high or low, close and intimate or distant and objective, camera movement with almost invisible subtlety or swiftly with sharp dramatic intent. We stage little scenes and try different camera grammar. I ask them what is the next shot that we need to see? They realize they know intuitively how to shoot. We talk about the editing of those shots and point of view. To make a film you the filmmaker has to have a point of view.

Gordon Willis, ASC 1932-2014

Gordon Willis, ASC the brilliant artist cinematographer of the the three Godfather movies, Annie Hall, Manhattan,  Klute, The Parallax View, All the Presidents Men and so many other great movies has passed. His bold photography helped define the look of 1970s cinema and was high regarded and studied by his colleagues.

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Regarding his work on “The Godfather,” Variety wrote in 1997, “Among “The Godfather’s” many astonishments, the photography by Gordon Willis — a rich play with light and shadow — confirmed Willis’ genius but was especially striking as an extension of Francis Ford Coppola’s creative intelligence. ” Coppola once said, “He has a natural sense of structure and beauty, not unlike a Renaissance artist.” He faced resistance at first to not showing Marlon Brando’s eyes, purposely obscuring the lighting to suggest the family’s corruption. “There were times when we didn’t want the audience to see what was going on in there and then subtly, you let them see into his soul for a while,” Willis famously said.

His long collaboration with Woody Allen also included shooting “Interiors,” “Stardust Memories,” “Broadway Danny Rose,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo” and “Zelig.” Hal Ashby hired Willis for his first film, “The Landlord,” and during the 1970s he shot pics such as “Bad Company,” “The Drowning Pool,” “Up the Sandbox” and “Little Murders.” In later years, he worked on “Malice,” “The Pick-Up Artist” and “The Money Pit” and Bridges’ “Perfect” and “Bright Lights, Big City.”

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His black-and-white photography for “Manhattan” made it one of cinema’s most visually arresting films. Roger Ebert wrote of “Manhattan,” “All of these locations and all of these songs would not have the effect they do without the widescreen black and white cinematography of Gordon Willis. This is one of the best-photographed movies ever made… Some of the scenes are famous just because of Willis’ lighting. For example, the way Isaac and Mary walk through the observatory as if they’re strolling among the stars or on the surface of the moon. Later, as their conversation gets a little lost, Willis daringly lets them disappear into darkness, and then finds them again with just a sliver of side-lighting.”

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Gordon Willis with Woody Allen

Cesar’s Last Fast – World Premiere – 2014 Sundance Film Festival

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Cesar Chavez breaks his 36 day fast with Ethel Kennedy, his mother Juana Estrada Chavez and Rev. Jesse Jackson, August 21, 1988

Cesar’s Last Fast – World Premiere – 2014 Sundance Film Festival – U.S. Feature Documentary Competition
January 19, 2014 – 3:00 PM – Temple Theater, Park City

In 1988, Cesar Chavez embarked on what would be his last act of protest in his remarkable life. Driven in part to pay penance for feeling he had not done enough, Chavez began his Fast for Life, a 36-day water-only hunger strike, to draw attention to the horrific effects of unfettered pesticide use on farm workers, their families, and their communities.
Using never-before-seen footage of Chavez during his fast and testimony from those closest to him, director Richard Ray Perez weaves together the larger story of Chavez’s life, vision, and legacy. A deeply religious man, Chavez’s moral clarity in organizing and standing with farmworkers at risk of his own life humbled his family, friends, and the world.
Cesar’s Last Fast is a moving and definitive portrait of the leader of a people who became an American icon of struggle and freedom.

I was very fortunate to have filmed Cesar Chavez during his 36 day fast. My wife Robin was with me and recorded sound. She also shot the remarkable still photo below of the moment that Cesar broke his fast, taking holy communion with Ethel Kennedy, his mother and Jesse Jackson while I filmed the culmination of his astonishing act of sacrifice. The lessons that Cesar taught us are even more relevant today given the plight of low wage workers everywhere and the threat to the environment, our air, our water, our food.

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Robin Becker and James Chressanthis, 1988, Delano, California the day Cesar Chavez broke his 36 day fast