Budapest (MTI) – Hungarian-born American cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond died at the age of 85 on January 1, entertainment magazine Variety reported on its website on Sunday.

Zsigmond won an Oscar for his achievements on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and received Oscar nominations for his work on The Deer Hunter, The River (1984) and The Black Dahlia(2006).

Born in Szeged in 1930, Zsigmond studied cinema at the Academy of Drama and Film in Budapest where he graduated in 1955. One year later he and his friend and fellow student Laszlo Kovacs escaped from Hungary with about 10,000 metres of footage taken during the anti-Soviet revolution and freedom fight.

The two friends settled later in the United States where Zsigmond became citizen in 1962.

Zsigmond started his career working on low-budget independent and educational films.

He then was hired as cinematographer by Robert Altman for the film McCabe and Mr. Miller in which he first used a technique applying filters.

Zsigmond later worked with Altman on The Long Goodbye and with Stephen Spielberg on The Sugarland Express, as well as on Close Encounters of the Third Kind which won him the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1977.

He later worked with Brian De Palma on Obsession, Blow Out, The Bonfire of the Vanities and The Black Dahlia, with Michael Cimino on The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate, with George Miller on The Witches Of Eastwick and with Woody Allen on Melinda and Melinda, Cassandra’s Dream, and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.

Zsigmond received Britain’s BAFTA in 1978 for the film Deer Hunter he considered his best work.

He received a Life Achievement Award in Cannes in 2014.

He maintained contact with his home country where he worked in 2002 as cinematographer for a Hungarian film, Bank Ban, for the first time. Zsigmond returned to Hungary on several occasions, most recently in June last year when he was greeted on his 85th birthday during an exhibition showing a large collection of his photos in Budapest.

Photo: MTI


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