Boris Kaufman, the Oscar-winning cinematographer who shot Jean Vigo’s oeuvre and helped introduce a neo-realistic style into American films, was born on August 24, 1897, in Bialystok, Poland, then part of the Russian Empire. The youngest son of librarians, the Soviet directors Denis Kaufman (a.k.a. Dziga Vertov, meaning “Spinning Top”) and Mikhail Kaufman were his older brothers. Dziga Vertov was one of the great innovators in Soviet cinema, the father of the agit-prop film, who directed Chelovek s kino-apparatom (1929), and his brother Boris imitated his beloved camera tricks when he shot the documentary À propos de Nice (1930) for Vigo.
The Kaufmans’ parents decided to move to Moscow at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, and Denis went to school in St. Petersburg. In 1917, Russia experienced two revolutions, one which overthrew the Czar and the later, the “October” Revolution, which overthrew the bourgeois democracy and established the Bolshevik Party as the new rulers… read more