(MTI) – A life achievement award is always a “big deal” because it is a recognition of one’s entire life work, Academy Award-winning Hungarian-American cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond said after getting a life achievement award from the CineFest Miskolc International Film Festival.
The 84-year-old cinematographer who emigrated to the US in 1956 said he was lucky throughout his Hollywood career because already during the 1970s he could choose which films he was interested in working. He added that he was always most attracted by films that focused on the people and even though the 1978 sci-fi Close Encounters of the Third Kind, for which he received the Academy Award, included special effects, it was essentially not about that.
Zsigmond said his best work to date was the 1978 Vietnam war drama The Deer Hunter but he liked all the films he had a hand in because they “all made sense”.
He said he had recently finished the documentary feature God the Father about a former mafia member and there are several other films in the pipeline.
Zsigmond said he always considered it an obligation to pass over his knowledge to others and he would regularly attend the biannual Budapest Cinematography Masterclass in Etyek. He added that it was regrettable that since 2011, the masterclass series has been discontinued.
He said he was also teaching at the Global Cinematography Institute, where he was teaching young filmmakers that digital images should also be handled as celluloid. Since the images captured by digital cameras look OK in the first place, many people pay less attention to lighting and creating the right atmosphere. As a result, such images, no matter how good they look, are not art anymore, he added.
According to Zsigmond, using a new technology only makes sense if it is better than the one it replaces. Digital technology does not offer as high quality as film and encourages filmmakers to be sloppy.
Zsigmond said his main goal has always been to make films that look better than reality.