The American Society of Cinematographers

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No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos to Air Nationally on the PBS Series Independent Lens

A Fascinating Road-Trip through American Cinema, Told by the Cinematographers Who Defined a Generation of Filmmaking

November 9, 2009
No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos follows the lives of renowned cinematographers Laszlo Koács and Vilmos Zsigmond from escaping the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary to present day. A film by Director James Chressanthis and Producers Kian Soleimanpour, Zachary Kranzler and Tony Frere, No Subtitles Necessary, an NC Motion Pictures production, will air nationally on the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 10 p.m. (check local listings)

As film students in Hungary, Laszlo and Vilmos took to the war-torn streets of Budapest to shoot footage of the Russian invasion, and subsequently volunteered to smuggle it out of the country. Barely escaping with their lives, the two friends fled to America and settled in Hollywood, eventually saving enough money to buy their own 16mm camera.

After working 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: Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Deliverance, Paper Moon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and more. Working with directors including Robert Altman, Bob Rafelson, Peter Bogdanovich, and Martin Scorsese, they helped create a new American film aesthetic, and pioneered innovative, fearless ways to tell stories.

“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

Told through interviews with Laszlo (who died in 2007) 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, Dennis Hopper and Sharon Stone, No Subtitles Necessary is an intimate portrait of two giants of modern imagemaking and their deep bond of brotherhood that transcended every imaginable boundary. Two heroes. One road.

To learn more about the film, visit the No Subtitles Necessary interactive companion website ( which features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.

About the Filmmakers

James Chressanthis, ASC (Director/Producer), is a cinematographer who has earned a diverse range of nearly 40 credits since the early 1990s, including documentaries, independent features, television movies and episodic series. He shot the Emmy®-nominated Four Minutes and Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows and additional photography on the Oscar®-winning Chicago. He studied cinematography at American Film Institute and began his career shooting nearly 100 break-through music videos with such artists as Bobby McFerrin, James Brown, Hammer, NWA and Dr. Dre. Since 2005, Chressanthis has been a director and cinematographer of the popular dramatic series Ghost Whisperer. He recently completed the Renée Zellweger produced film Living Proof, starring Harry Connick Jr. No Subtitles Necessary is his feature film directing debut.

Kian Soleimanpour (Producer), media attorney and principal and founding member of NC Motion Pictures, LLC. No Subtitles Necessary is Soleimanpour’s debut as a feature filmmaker and producer. He has also been practicing law for over eight years and is currently legal counsel at Qualcomm’s mobile TV division, FLO TV. 

Over the course of his 12 year professional career, Zachary Kranzler (Producer) has honed his creative and technical skills as a technical media consultant, and a filmmaker in front of, and behind, the camera.  As a consultant, his clients included Apple Computer, Inc., The Hallmark Channel, and Reality Check Studios.  With his move behind the camera, Kranzler has written, produced and/or directed several commercials and music videos.  His first foray into the feature world is No Subtitles Necessary: László & Vilmos.

Other key members of the No Subtitles Necessary production team and crew include Producer Tony Frere, Executive Producers Jimmy Conroy and Dr. David Kaminsky, Co-Executive Producer Art Monterastelli, Editor and Co-Producer Elisa Bonora and Cinematographer Anka Malatynska.

About Laszlo Kovács, ASC
Laszlo Kovács’ breakthrough came with the Academy Award-nominated 1969 film Easy Rider, starring and directed by Dennis Hopper. In 1970, he again worked with Hopper on the film The Last Movie. That same year, Kovács filmed the Academy Award-nominated film Five Easy Pieces. Kovács served as cinematographer on more than 70 motion pictures. Among these were six films for Peter Bogdanovich (Targets, What's Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, At Long Last Love, Nickelodeon, Mask and For Pete's Sake), Shampoo, New York, New York, Ghostbusters, Say Anything, Radio Flyer, My Best Friend's Wedding, and Miss Congeniality. He also did additional photography on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Last Waltz.


About Vilmos Zigmond, ASC
Vilmos Zsigmond gained prominence during the 1970’s working on Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller and The Long Goodbye and Steven Spielberg's The Sugarland Express and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the latter of which won him the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Zsigmond has 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 Richard Donner on Maverick and Assassins, and with Woody Allen on Melinda and Melinda and Cassandra's Dream and the Untitled Woody Allen 2009 Film Project.

About Independent Lens
Independent Lens
is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Further information about the series is available at Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen.