Born in Mexico City in 1907, Gabriel Figueroa studied painting and photography before finding his way to film. After an early project as one of several camera operators for a 1932 Howard Hawks film, Figueroa won a scholarship to study with renowned American cinematographer Gregg Toland, whose revolutionary deep focus and lighting techniques would heavily influence Figueroa’s work.
While he inherited Toland’s techniques and the dramatic chiaroscuro effects of German Expressionism, Figueroa also adapted these aesthetics to the Mexican scene. By combining mysterious, high-contrast interiors with awe-inspiring landscape compositions, Figueroa brought to the world a dramatically new and beautiful picture of rural Mexico.
He shot 235 movies over fifty years and became not only the leading cinematographer of Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema (1930–1960) but a world-renowned craftsman as well, winning numerous cinematography awards and working for such canonical directors as Emilio Fernández, John Ford, John Huston, and Luis Buñuel.
On Saturday, February 23, we will have Figueroa’s son, Gabriel Figueroa Flores, introduce us to his father’s work and discuss his own film about the life and work of Diego Rivera.