UPDATE: Rising Stars of 2021 Continue to Shine

American Cinematographer checks in with last year’s Rising Stars of Cinematography.

Over the past 12 months, the nine cinematographers selected as our 2021 Rising Stars of Cinematography have been hard at work shooting projects around the world. The following is a brief update on each.

Todd Somodevilla
The cinematographer shot Quest For Sleep, a feature-length documentary about people dealing with insomnia, which was shot in locations in the U.S. and Costa Rica. Somodevilla also served as 2nd-unit cinematographer and operator on the feature film Bros, shot by Brandon Trost, directed by Nicholas Stoller, produced by Judd Apatow, and starring Billy Eichner. He was also A and B camera operator on episodes of Blue Bloods, shot by Don Thorin, ASC. 

Somodevilla on the set of Bros.

Archana Borhade
Writing as well as shooting this last year, Borhade’s screenplay Purjey was chosen for the Global Media Makers Program by Film Independent in Los Angeles. Her latest cinematographic endeavor, the feature Karkhanisanchi Waari, premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival and was selected by the Maharashtra Government as one of the three feature films to represent Marathi Cinema at the Marche Du Films at Cannes 2022. Borhade is currently finalizing the screenplay of her directorial debut, which she will shoot this year.

Borhade at a VR workshop with Canon R5 camera as part of GMM (Global Media Makers) program.

Cale Finot
The cinematographer shot a feature for StudioCanal in Berlin entitled Baghead, which is currently in postproduction. Finot is also in postvon a limited series for Peacock which he shot in the Dominican Republic and will be released in the coming months. He continues to shoot music videos as well as features, starting out the year shooting in both Dublin and New Orleans for music video work. On top of shooting, Finot is proud of his 4,000-mile motorcycle trip this last year.


Tobia Sempi, AIC
Sempi stayed busy shooting commercials this last year. He is particularly excited about his most recent work for Meta, for which he shot on an LED volume stage with multiple cameras. He has also been working on the DI for his feature One Way in Dublin. One of his most rewarding experiences this last year was the short Aventura, his ninth collaboration with director Chloë De Carvalho, which focused on immersing the viewer in the world of young children.

Sempi on the set of Aventura.

Daphne Wu
The cinematographer’s feature documentary film Accepted, directed by Dan Chen was released in theaters on July 1. She is currently in prep for the feature film The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster, directed by Bomani Story. Wu finds her work on the sci-fi short Autopilot, directed by Jennifer Zhang, to be one of the most rewarding experiences of the last year, as it allowed her to shoot a film set in space. Wu also shot List of a Lifetime, directed by Roxy Shih, which was nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Movie Made For Television. 


Shabier Kirchner
Kirchner is currently developing a film based on the book Augustown by Kei Miller, to be shot in the Caribbean. He most recently shot the feature film Past Lives, directed by Celine Song and produced by A24. Kirchner finds his work on Past Lives to be the most rewarding experience of the last year, as it was Song’s first film and deeply personal to her as a storyteller.


Hillary Spera
The cinematographer recently wrapped the New Line/ Warner Brothers feature The Parenting directed by Craig Johnson. The film marks the second collaboration between Spera and Johnson, who collaborated together on Alex Strangelove in 2017. This last year, Spera also shot the Showtime series Dexter: New Blood, directed by Marcos Siega, as well as the AppleTV series Extrapolations with director Nicole Holofcener.

Spera on set of The Parenting. (Photo by Seacia Pavao)

Ross Giardina, ACS
Giardina most recently shot an NBA Playoff Commercial on location in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. His film Gold, directed by Anthony Hayes and starring Zac Efron, was released in March and is available now for rental on Apple TV. Giardina’s most recent feature, Mercy Road, directed by John Curren, is currently in post.


Bruce Francis Cole
The cinematographer was recently in Utah, working with the directors in the Sundance Labs Episodic Program. This past year, he wrapped Season 1 of Queer as Folk for Peacock, which premiered June 9. His feature film Farewell Amor was picked up by the Criterion Collection, a bucket-list accomplishment for Cole. He also had the opportunity to shoot the music video for Family Ties, featuring Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar, and directed by Dave Free.


You'll find all our previous Rising Stars of Cinematography here: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022.

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