Laszlo Kovacs, ASC and Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC,
along with Gyorgy Illes, HSC and Janos Toth are the first recipients of The
Legend Award from the Hungarian Society of Cinematographers (HSC). The Legend
Award was created to honor cinematographers whose lives and notable bodies of
work are an inspiration to filmmakers. The awards will be presented during the
fifth annual Golden Eye National Festival of Cinematography Art on October 29
in Budapest, Hungary.
Illes is a prominent Hungarian cinematographer who mentored Kovacs and
Zsigmond when they were students at the Academy of Drama and Film in Budapest.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the two cinematographers' perilous
escape from their native land after the Russian army crushed a popular
uprising against the communist regime in November 1956. Kovacs and Zsigmond
had documented the revolt and its brutal suppression on 35 mm film. Just to
put that into proper perspective, Russian soldiers were shooting people on the
spot if they were caught on the street with cameras.
Illes advised Zsigmond and Kovacs it would be prudent for them to leave the
country, because the Russians were arresting students who were accused of
participating in the revolt. They carried some 10,000 feet of their film on a
long and dangerous trek through open fields and subsequently across the border
into Austria. Some of their film ultimately aired on CBS-TV.
In March 1957, Zsigmond and Kovacs migrated to the United States as political
refugees. Despite the heavy odds against them, they persisted and ultimately
Kovacs has compiled some 70 credits, including such classics as EASY RIDER,
FIVE EASY PIECES, THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS, SHAMPOO, PAPER MOON, NEW YORK,
NEW YORK, GHOSTBUSTERS, MASK, RADIO FLYER, MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING and MISS
Zsigmond has earned some 70 credits. He received an Oscar® for CLOSE
ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and other nominations for THE DEER HUNTER, which
won a BAFTA Award, and THE RIVER. Zsigmond also won an Emmy award for his
telefilm STALIN and another nomination for THE MISTS OF AVALON. His other
credits include such classics as THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS, THE GHOST AND THE
DARKNESS, LIFE AS A HOUSE, MCCABE & MRS. MILLER, DELIVERANCE, THE LONG
GOODBYE, THE ROSE, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK and MAVERICK. His upcoming film,
THE BLACK DAHLIA, is in postproduction and slated for release in early 2006.
Both cinematographers have previously received Lifetime Achievement Awards
from their peers in the American Society of Cinematographers and from the
CamerImage International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography.
Zsigmond stayed in touch with Illes and his former classmates by writing them
letters during the 1960s. When Illes was nominated for an Oscar in the foreign
film category during the early 1970s, Zsigmond met him at the airport in Los
"Gyorgy asked me when I was coming home to visit the school," Zsigmond
recalls. "After that, I began making regular visits and advised the students."
When Zsigmond received an Oscar for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, he
thanked Illes and other mentors at the Budapest school. He subsequently helped
to organize a bi-annual summer workshop for students from around the world at
the school in Budapest. He and Kovacs are regular participants.
"Gyorgy Illes is a great filmmaker who was like another father to me," Kovacs
says. "I once asked how we could ever repay him for his many kindnesses, and
he said I should help young filmmakers whenever I had the opportunity. I have
tried my best to do that. It is a tremendous honor for me to receive this
award in his presence."
The HSC is the primary organizer of the Golden Eye Festival, which is
designed to recognize artistic achievements by cinematographers. There will be
17 film categories for HSC members to judge.
For more info, visit www.filmmakersbg.org or www.hscmot.hu.
Kovacs, Zsigmond Will Receive Inaugural Legend
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