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PBS Showcases Cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond

James Chressanthis’ No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos, a documentary about the life and work of cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs, ASC, and Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, will air nationally on November 17th on the PBS series Independent Lens.

No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos follows the lives of renowned cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond from escaping the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary to present day.

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 ’60s and ’70s, 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.

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 including 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 image-making and their deep bond of brotherhood that transcended every imaginable boundary.

To learn more about the film, visit the No Subtitles Necessary interactive companion Web site, 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.