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Movie Lovers We Love: From Sirk to Zeitlin, Robin Holland Trains Her Camera on the Greatest Film Directors

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire October 12, 2012 at 12:40PM

When Indiewire edited the print magazine IFC Rant (yes, that really happened!), the publication ran images of Halle Berry, Michelle Rodriguez and Jennifer Jason Leigh shot by Robin Holland. But photographing starlets is not what brought Holland to the film world. Since she first shot Douglas Sirk several decades ago, Holland has traveled the world seeking out her favorite film directors. 
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Robin Holland
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Robin Holland

When Indiewire edited the print magazine IFC Rant (yes, that really happened!), the publication ran images of Halle Berry, Michelle Rodriguez and Jennifer Jason Leigh shot by Robin Holland. But photographing starlets is not what brought Holland to the film world. Since she first shot Douglas Sirk several decades ago, Holland has traveled the world seeking out her favorite film directors. 

Though she started off wanting to be a poet, Holland told Indiewire, "Poetry wasn't cutting it. I was saving money to go to graduate school. I was writing a column for the Times."

Her first experience as a professional photographer, Holland said, began when she "wanted to write about these nuns who had a whole building at Port Authority. They looked like me, my friends, jackets, asymmetrical haircuts. I want to do a photo story on them. My editor pulled me aside and said 'Robin, you're Jewish, nuns have been not wearing habits for years.' Duh, you don't get it, I thought. So I went back with my camera, took pictures of them, got them developed and he said, 'You're right they're beautiful!'"

Eventually, Holland started working for the Village Voice; later, she sought her favorite film directors to shoot.  

Over several decades of photographing her favorite auteurs, Holland shared with Indiewire 16 of her favorite photos.  On the next two pages are two galleries of Holland's photos, with captions supplied by Holland.

Each photo has its own story, and Holland excitedly shared with Indiewire the story from each photo she shared.

Some highlights:

On Werner Herzog:  "The Herzog picture has taken off. It's my most stolen picture. When I was taking it, I said to him, 'People think you're really intense. Can you give me your angst face?' That's who people think he is, and that's why that's my most stolen photo."

On the Michael Moore photo:  "This was for the Film Comment cover when he was releasing 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' [Film Comment Editor] Gavin Smith was one of the first people to write about Moore seriously as a filmmaker.  I called up Madame Tussaud's in their office in Vegas, and they asked me what kind of magazine Film Comment was.  I told them it was an intellectual journal that's part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and braced myself.  The marketing person just said, 'Great!'" and set me up. Moore ended up being six hours late for that shoot, but it all worked out!"

On Wim Wenders: "I just called his assistant and asked where he was. They told me he was directing a film in Salzberg. You can't do this today, but I showed up and took a few photos with him!  It's one of my favorite shoots!"

Favorite Film-Related Shoot:  

"My favorite shoot is the one I just had with Jonathan [Lisecki, director of "Gayby"].  The good shoots blend.  Except for 'Oh my god! I'm spending time with André Téchiné, I even let him smoke in my studio. No one's allowed to do that!' "

Somebody you'd want to shoot:  

Jean-Luc Godard.  Hello! Jean-Luc!!!!

Favorite Directors:  

Claire Denis, Lucretia Martel, André Téchiné, Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Sara Driver.  I love saying this:  Cassavetes.  Fellini, Wong Kar Wai, Kiarostami, Wong Kar Wai. My favorite director is actually Ozu.  I love the Dardenne Brothers.

Favorite Films:

"Contempt," "Berlin Alexanderplatz," "Brokeback Mountain."  It's usually the last film that I really liked. 

Douglas Sirk, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Douglas Sirk, NYC
Wim Wenders, Salzburg, Austria
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Wim Wenders, Salzburg, Austria
Paul Bartel, Divine, producer, publicist and Tab Hunter’s boyfriend, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Paul Bartel, Divine, producer, publicist and Tab Hunter’s boyfriend, NYC
Eric Rohmer, Paris
Eric Rohmer, Paris
Errol Morris and his son Hamilton, NYC
Errol Morris and his son Hamilton, NYC
Ousmane Sembène, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Ousmane Sembène, NYC
Todd Haynes and Christian Bale, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Todd Haynes and Christian Bale, NYC
Werner Herzog
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Werner Herzog
Miranda July, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Miranda July, NYC
Michael Moore and Dummy, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Michael Moore and Dummy, NYC
Michael Haneke, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Michael Haneke, NYC
Wes Anderson, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Wes Anderson, NYC
Laurent and "The Class," NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Laurent and "The Class," NYC
Mia Hansen-Løve, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Mia Hansen-Løve, NYC
Josh and Benny Safdie, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Josh and Benny Safdie, NYC
Benh Zeitlin, NYC
©Robin Holland/www.robinholland.com Benh Zeitlin, NYC

This article is related to: Movie Lovers We Love