On the set of Snowpiercer
The Los Angeles Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, staring on June 11 with screenings of over 200 films programmed to entertain. Produced by Film Independent, the fest revels in showcasing independent and international cinema – from narrative films of all genres, to short films and international fare. This year, sections of the LAFF showcase upcoming independent movies releasing this summer as well as community screenings for the public and a look at daring, unique storytelling by some of today’s emerging filmmakers.
Snowpiercer opens the festival, making it the English-language debut of writer-director Boon Jo-Hong. This sci-fi fantasy stars Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton who live in a world covered in ice after an attempt to stop global warming fails. Survivors live on a supertrain circling what’s left of Earth. Inside, the poorest live in pathetic conditions, while the rich live in luxury, until one of the oppressed decides to change the state of affairs.
Scene from The Normal Heart
Danny Moder didn’t set out to be a cinematographer, but filmmaking is in his DNA. His grandfather, Dick Moder, was a director and his father, Mike Moder, spent nearly four decades on the production frontlines of films like Jeremiah Johnson, Beverly Hills Cop, and Crimson Tide. And it was on that 1995 Tony Scott action flick that Moder got his first taste of life on the set, after nagging his father “enough that he let me try it out for a summer job, working as a production assistant.” From there, he was hooked.
In the nearly two decades since he began his career, Moder has amassed nearly 40 credits, most recently as the cinematographer on Ryan Murphy’s The Normal Heart, which stars Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, and Julia Roberts, who also happens to be Moder’s wife of a dozen years.
Director WALLY PFISTER on the set of Alcon Entertainment's sci-fi thriller “TRANSCENDENCE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Peter Mountain.
Oscar®-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister is making his directorial debut with Transcendence. The film follows Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, who is working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. Anti-technology extremists attempt to destroy Will but instead become the catalyst for him to succeed, and be a participant in his own transcendence.
“Imagine your brain suddenly being able to connect to the Internet, to have access to every bit of information there—financial, medical, political…” remarks Pfister. “What would you do with that kind of knowledge, that kind of ultimate power? Would you use it for the greater good, or your own gain, or something else entirely? This film gives moviegoers a chance to see the possibilities and wonder if it’s a choice they’ll ever have to face.”
Russell Crowe stars as Noah (Photo: by Niko Tavernise Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
The Biblical story of Noah and the Ark is brought to the big screen by director Darren Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique, ASC. The filmmaking duo previously collaborated on Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and Black Swan.
Russell Crowe stars as Noah, the man chosen by God to undertake a momentous mission of rescue before an apocalyptic flood destroys the world. Shot on location in Iceland and New York, as well as a few other locales, Libatique shares his approach to capturing Aronofsky’s creative vision in this month’s American Cinematographer. The two chose KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 5219, 250D 5207, and KODAK VISION2 100T 5212.
Elle Fanning in Low Down. (Credit Low Down Production.)
Christopher Blauvelt is a third-generation filmmaker who still treasures his grandfather’s Graflex 4x5 still camera. His grandfather was a grip, his grandmother worked in the costume department, and his father, uncle and brother are all in the camera department. His father gave him a POLAROID camera when he was 4 years old, and he’s been shooting ever since.
In addition to his family connections, Blauvelt worked as an assistant under the tutelage of the late Harris Savides, ASC. “Harris opened up new worlds for me,” Blauvelt recalls. “He challenged everything about the way things were done. He shared his knowledge for the most obscure and amazing movies.”