Interview: Victor Skrebneski Unveils 2014 Portrait For the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

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CHICAGO – Opening Night for the 50th Chicago International Film Festival is October 9th, and their official portrait on the poster this year was again photographed by the iconic lensman Victor Skrebneski.

50th Chicago International Film Festival
The Official Poster Portrait for the 50th Chicago International Film Festival, by Victor Skrebneski
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Skrebneski unveiled the portrait – entitled “The Next Generation” – last month at a highly anticipated reception, that also opened an exhibition of his previous poster artwork. The portrait for the 50th Chicago International Film Festival looks to the future, in a whimsical take on Skrebneski’s signature style, and it joins a gallery of his poster stars over the years, which includes Orson Welles. Bette Davis, Anna Nicole Smith, Dennis Hopper and Andy Warhol. was at the event, as the attendees gasped and cheered when the beautiful image was revealed. Later, Victor Skrebneski talked about his life and work in a brief interview. The 50th Chicago International Film Festival opens October 9th, 2014, with “Miss Julie,” directed by Liv Ullmann.

Michael Kutza. Victor Skrebneski
Photographer Victor Skrebneski (right) and Chicago International Film Festival Founder Michael Kutza at the Unveiling
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for What was the first image – maybe even as a child – that you can remember being photographic for you?

Victor Skrebneski: It was the first image of my sister that I photographed when I was very young. She was my model. I only had one light, and I didn’t know where to put it, so I put it really close to her. That didn’t work, so I kept pulling it back until I got what I wanted. I actually display that picture often. I was 14 or 15 years old at the time, and my sister – a beautiful girl – was two years older. What brought you to that point, with a camera and the use of light? How did you start taking pictures of people?

Skrebneski: It was about shooting my girlfriends, and at that time they thought I was a photographer. [laughs] I have a terrific photo in same era – of Jane Twaits – and she dressed like a flapper from the 1920s. I had a thin table from approximately that time, and that’s another great early picture. What brought you to that point, with a camera and the use of light? How did you start taking pictures of people?

Skrebneski: As close as I can remember, it would be Orson Welles. I was shooting for Warner Brothers at the time, and I arrived promptly at where we were meeting, and he was 45 minutes late. He was always late. The lighting and camera were all set up, but I started packing up, because I figured he wasn’t coming. As I soon I started doing that, he walked in.

After I introduced myself, he looked around and said, ‘Okay maestro, let’s begin.’ He called me that because he would light a set the same way I do, and he knew what light would be on him. That was the photograph.

The 50th Chicago International Film Festival will take place October 9th-23rd, 2014. Click here for film schedules, information and to purchase tickets. The Victor Skrebneski Exhibit, “Because Everybody Loves Movies,” runs through October 30th, 2014, at the Expo 72 Gallery, 72 E. Randolph Street, Chicago. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2014 Patrick McDonald,

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