Black, white, 35 mm and New York. These four things are used to wonderful effect by Cinematographer Eric Branco, in his most recent feature film The 40-Year-Old Version. Written and Directed by Radha Blank, the film is shot entirely in black and white, creating the perfect palette to showcase the beauty of Black skin in all its highlights and undertones.
Following the film’s premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Carolyn spoke with Eric about what it was like to shoot on 35mm, seeing New York through this black and white lens, and how to build scenes through visual storytelling. In Blanks, The 40-Year-Old Version, Radha (played by Blank herself) is a disillusioned playwright who comes to a crossroads in her life following the death of her mother. Needing a change, she decides that to switch from writing plays, to writing rap and performing songs. Radha is doubted, mocked and discouraged, but she’s determined to forge a path for herself, even if it gets a bit crooked.
A native of New York City, Eric Branco attended The Bronx High School of Science and the School of Visual Arts before beginning his career in film. Branco has lensed several feature films including The 40-Year-Old Version (dir. Radha Blank), V/H/S (dir. Glenn McQuaid), and Clemency (dir. Chinonye Chukwu), which took home the Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. He has also shot numerous short films, such as Night Shift (dir. Marshall Tyler), The River (dir. Sam Handel), Moths and Butterflies (dir. Alfonso Johnson), and THE COMPOSITOR (dir. John Mattiuzzi), winner of a Student Academy Award.
Branco’s work has screened at festivals worldwide, including Sundance, TriBeCa, Toronto International Film Festival, Slamdance and SXSW. He was recently named one of Variety’s “10 Cinematographers to Watch” 2019, and one of American Cinematographer’s “Rising Stars of Cinematography” 2020. Eric splits time between NYC and Los Angeles. On days off, he can usually be found in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium with his wife and daughter.
Carolyn is a Freelance Film Critic, Journalist, and Podcaster – and avid live tweeter. Member of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), her published work can be found on But Why Tho, The Beat, Observer, and many other sites. As a critic, she believes her personal experiences and outlook on life, give readers and listeners a different perspective they can appreciate.