February 2023

Fremont: A Black-and-White View of San Francisco’s Chinatown

When cinematographer Laura Valladao first started snapping black-and-white photographs of San Francisco’s Chinatown in March of 2022, neither she nor director Babak Jalali knew for sure if they would be allowed to steep their latest feature, Fremont, in the same palette. What they did know was that these stills would be a key part of a robust pitch to producers — one that, to the filmmakers’ relief, was ultimately approved. “We're very accustomed to seeing Chinatown in color, whether it's in photography or films,” Jalali says. “The stores, the people, the lanterns — all these things in Laura’s test photographs looked completely different from everything else I had seen myself in Chinatown.” ...more

FREMONT Still 1 Anaita Wali Zada

Caleb Hammond



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