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Anka Malatynska discovered the power of photography growing up in communist Poland, where she pored over editions of National Geographic that provided her with vibrant, colorful pictures of the world.

“I knew that a camera could be a ticket to exploring that,” she says.

That love for pictures brought her to cinematography. By the time she reached high school, Malatynska had discovered the power and emotion of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Double Life
of Veronique” and Wong Kar-Wai’s “Chungking Express.”

Malatynska’s latest projects are worlds apart. Hulu’s horror anthology series “Monsterland” presented its own challenges. Creating it, she says, “was akin to making eight independent almost-feature films back-to-back with 10 days of prep in between.” Malatynska nonetheless found the experience to be “fast, furious and wildly imaginative.”

The series constantly required new locations, actors and storylines, and the project’s cinematography allowed her to explore the inner landscapes of humans through the camera lens.

“Monsterland,” she adds, “is one of those rare and pivotal opportunities to create true art and exercise my creativity within the television spectrum. The show is a cinematographer’s dream.”
Her work on director Mike Mosallam’s “Breaking Fast” tells the story of a practicing Muslim and the all-American guy Kal, who offers to break the fast with him during the holy month of Ramadan.

Malatynska uses her lens and framing to explore their commonalities and differences. “The subject matter is provocative and timely,” she says. “It challenges stereotypes of Islam and the Muslim-American experience.”

Malatynska shot “Breaking Fast” on the RED Weapon 8K camera with Panavision Primos, using a specialized lens treatment in collaboration with Panavision’s lens team. Their goal was to “make the characters to jump off the screen into people’s hearts.”

“Anka was a great collaborator on this project,” says Mosallam. “She was quick on her feet and made things happen on the fly. I’m so appreciative of her nimble approach and her generous spirit.”

Malatynska is mentoring future cinematographers, serving as visiting professor of cinematography at Northwestern University in Qatar; before that, she taught at Northern Arizona University.

— Jazz Tangcay