Egyptian and
Aero Theatres
Hollywood & Santa Monica
Wed, May 3, 2017 - Sat, May 13, 2017
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Presented by the American Cinematheque with the support of the Goethe-Institut.

It may have been preordained that Michael Ballhaus would make his livelihood in the film business; both of his parents were actors, and director Max Ophüls was a family friend (who cast the young man as an extra in his final film). But Ballhaus’ future lay behind the camera rather than in front of it, and his nearly 50-year career as a cinematographer earned three Oscar nominations and teamed him with some of the greatest filmmakers in recent history.

That career began in 1971 in Ballhaus’ native Germany, where he became one of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s most trusted collaborators. The two teamed more than a dozen times, including television work (the epic miniseries WORLD ON A WIRE) and some of Fassbinder’s most acclaimed features (THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT, THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN). “He always cracked the whip to be fast and not to spend too much time,” noted Ballhaus of the temperamental director. “So I learned to be fast and still tried to be good. That was a big help later when I started shooting in the States.”

As the cinematographer shifted his focus to Hollywood films in the early 1980s, respect for his skills and calm under fire grew quickly, as did demand for his services. James L. Brooks, Frank Oz, Mike Nichols, Robert Redford and Wolfgang Petersen were all repeat customers. But after Fassbinder, the director most closely associated with Ballhaus was Martin Scorsese. “It was Michael who really gave me back my sense of excitement in making movies,” the director said of his old friend. "If I asked him for something difficult, he would approach it with enthusiasm: He never told me we couldn’t do something, and he loved to be challenged.” The seven films they made together include AFTER HOURS, THE COLOR OF MONEY, Best Picture winner THE DEPARTED and GOODFELLAS, the acclaimed crime drama for which Ballhaus’ Copacabana nightclub tracking shot remains the stuff of legend.

Series compiled by Grant Moninger. Program notes by John Hagelston.

Both TheatresWed, May 3, 2017 - Sat, May 13, 2017
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Films in this Series at the Egyptian

Fri, May 12, 2017 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre
Sat, May 13, 2017 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre

Films in this Series at the Aero

Wed, May 3, 2017 - 7:30pm
Aero Theatre
Fri, May 5, 2017 - 7:30pm
Aero Theatre
Sat, May 6, 2017 - 7:30pm
Aero Theatre
Sun, May 7, 2017 - 7:30pm
Aero Theatre