Eastern European Cinematographers

What do the films The Deer Hunter, Deliverance and Close Encounters of the Third Kind have in common? They’re all iconic movies, and they were all shot by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. He died on New Year’s Day at the age of 85. He and his friend Laszlo Kovacs started out filming the carnage as the Soviet Union quashed the Hungarian revolt against Communist rule in 1956. Then they came to Hollywood – and they are only two of many great film photographers from Eastern Europe. How did so many extraordinary cinematographers come from one part of the world?