‘Indiana Jones’ Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael on Directing Tourist Thriller ‘Light Falls’ (EXCLUSIVE)

At the Cannes Film Festival, Italy’s 102 Distribution is selling thriller “Light Falls,” directed by Phedon Papamichael, the cinematographer on James Mangold’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” Papamichael, who was Oscar nominated for handling the cinematography on Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” talks to Variety about shooting “Light Falls.”

The film tells the story of Clara, played by Elene Makharashvili, and Ella, played by Nini Nebieridze, two young lovers whose Greek island holiday spirals out of control when a tragic incident leads to an encounter with a trio of illegal Albanian immigrants. The thriller establishes the relationship of the young women before moving in a darker and more violent direction.

Papamichael told Variety: “The movie starts like an Eric Rohmer movie and ends like a Tarantino movie. It has a social political angle as well as playing like a thriller.” 

The disparity in size between his latest cinematography gig, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” and “Light Falls” is not lost on Papamichael. “I could’ve made one thousand films like ‘Light Falls’ with the budget of ‘Indy.’ Not a hundred, a thousand. I did the math,” he says. “But it’s refreshing. A challenge. I don’t have a crew of 800 people, pre-lighting six stages at Pinewood, and I don’t storyboard everything and previz everything, but just kind of walk in with an amateur cast and an actual location.” 

Although Papamichael has made his name as a sought-after cinematographer for the likes of Mangold, George Clooney and Payne, he enjoyed the stripped down production on his own film.  “I have one gaffer and one guy who was helping him on the truck,” he says. The action mainly takes place in an abandoned hotel, a location which needed no production design. “Everything is literally as we found it, even the leaves on the ground. We did bring some pigeons. It was really inspiring. Just finding that building on the scout, I realized we can do this movie in 23 days, with minimal lighting. So a very low budget approach.” 

“Light Falls” has already sold in several territories, including the U.S., Greece and Germany, and will likely premiere at a festival later this year. 102 Distribution has Italian distribution rights.

In addition to the acquisition of “Light Falls,” 102 Distribution is also presenting Luis Mandoki’s “Presencias,” starring Academy Award nominee Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”), and Goya Award winner Alberto Ammann (“Narcos: Mexico) at the Marché du Film in Cannes.

Head of distribution Tommaso Cerquiglini told Variety: “102 Distribution began as an Italian production and distribution company, primarily focused on acquiring and producing Italian and international films, as well as handling international rights. Recently, we have expanded our horizons by acquiring multi-territory rights for selected titles and managing international sales, including releases in multiple countries.”

Other titles include Carlos Eichelmann Kaiser’s drama “Red Shoes,” which premiered at Venice last year, and “Like a Father,” a Amazon Prime Video’s exclusive documentary on the life and career of iconic soccer coach Carletto Mazzone, featuring Italian soccer stars Francesco Totti, Roberto Baggio and Andrea Pirlo, and famed Spanish coach Pep Guardiola.

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