Hungarian Panorama

If I wanted to find a common trait in this year’s Hungarian program, I would – somewhat tentatively - say that it is hope. Tentatively, because when I started selecting the films their quality was my priority, and yet, when I stood back to take a look at the final list, it was not what I had expected. Human suffering has not decreased around the globe, especially not in Hungary, and it keeps growing everywhere. Yet the creators of these poignant films and stories seem to know that hope has to be evoked when it seems the most lost.

Here and now, for example.

Art represents hope for the mentally challenged young actors in Wonderful Gladiators as well as for the amateur prison actors in The Iron Curtain; in Invisible Strings the talented Pusker sisters, as Fellini put it, cling to music while the devoted teacher in There Was Once… passionately researches the history of the Jews in Kalocsa and believes that truth must be revealed at any price. In Motalko, the story of the petrol station and the family around it proves that regimes come and go but some things can be permanent … even a petrol station. Finally, the protagonists of Caught Between Two Worlds come from corners of the Third World from where even our helplessly drifting country looks like the promised land.

These films, like all good documentaries, do not merely grasp situations but show us the people who struggle tirelessly, caught in the whirlpool if circumstances. People who often have nothing left but their hope, which however no power can take away.

György Báron

Caught Between Two Worlds
Viktor Oszkár Nagy / Hungary / 2010 / 67 min / Arabic & English & French & Georgian & Russian & Somali
Four cultures, four stories, four fights, and a chance for a fresh start in a foreign country - everyday life in a Hungarian refugee camp.
A close-up on everyday life in a Hungarian refugee camp. In the past year, the number of asylums seekers in Hungary has risen above 4000. Following a rigorous application and screening procedure, only ten percent of the applicants are granted refugee status. After staying in the camps in Békéscsaba and Debrecen, they are moved to the Refugee Reception Center in Bicske. The “chosen ones” can live here for one year, during which social workers, language teachers and various NGOs try to prepare them for a new life in Hungary. Caught Between Two Worlds is a dramatic journey into the depths of refugee existence and what it means to start from scratch in a country that is prepared to host you, but remains foreign.

producer: Sára László, Marcell Gergő
editor: Péter Sass
camera: Rudolf Péter Kiss
sound: Péter Benjamin Lukács
music: Hildur Gudnadottir, Salif Keita

production info:
Campfilm Production
Károly krt. 3/c
1075 Budapest, Hungary
tel.: + 36 20 922 2655

selected filmography
3 Esküvő (2009) / Hajónapló (2009) / Apaföld (2008) / A vizsga (2006) / A Tárca (2005)
Corvin Variations
Klára Trencsényi / Hungary / 2011 / 39 min / Hungarian
What is left of the atmosphere of the famous Corvin promenade in Budapest after the city rehabilitation project? Locals talk about the old and new face of the area.
The Corvin Project initiated in 2003 was the largest and most awarded Central European city development project. It envisioned the full transformation of cca. 22 acres territory in the VIIIth district of Budapest, which implied the demolition of all buildings in the given area. Both the local government and the investor wanted to get rid of the “slums” by relocating more than one thousand families who could not afford buying property in the old-new area. The protagonists of Corvin Variations are all local residents who have been relocated in the course of the project. Three relocated families recall with nostalgia the old community and the promenade that now lives only in their memories.

producer: András Muhi, Inforg Stúdió
editor: Bence Bartos, Ági Mógor
camera: Klára Trencsényi
sound: Rudolf Várhegyi, 4Cut
music: Hanna Honthy, Miklós Preiszner

production info:
Inforg Stúdió
1092. Bp. Kinizsi u. 11.
tel.: +36 203 194 448

Bird’s Way (2009) / 3Weddings – Elena & Leo (2009) / A Chance (2007)
Invisible Strings- The Talented Pusker Sisters
Ágnes Sós / 2010 / Hungary / 70 min / Hungarian
If your greatest rival were the person who you loved the most how would you break free from her shadow? A film about family, love and music.
Júlia and Ágnes Pusker are two exceptionally talented violinists living Kecskemét, who also happen to be sisters. Two girls who both have an extraordinary musical talent and a passion for music inherited from their family. This film looks at the complexity of professional and family ties when talent, career and family bonds require patience, generosity and unconditional love. Julia és Ágnes’ special bond is strengthened by their profound love for music.

producer: Marc B. Lorber, Dorota Roszkowska, György Czutor
editor: Thomas Ernst
camera: Ágnes Sós, András Petróczy, Károly Markert
sound: Gábor Császár
music: Attila Reményi

production info:
HBO Holding Zrt.
Riadó u.5.
1026 Budapest, Hungary
tel.: + 36 1 372-3700

selected filmography
Őrült szerelem ez (2009) / A Dobópápa (2007) / Akartam volna mutatni (2006) / Hangköz (2005) / Magamról röviden csak annyit… (Ferenczi Gáborral) (2002) / Kitoloncoltak (Ferenczi Gáborral) (1993)
Iron Curtain – Theatre in the Penitentiary of Vác
Glória Halász / 2011 / Hungary / 69 min / Hungarian
A dedicated volunteer and an enthusiastic group of prisoners find trust and creativity in theater.
In the Vác Penitentiary a theatre group has been working for years – its actors are inmates. This film follows the work of a dedicated director and her enthusiastic group who, despite their isolation and the difficult circumstances, hold on to the redeeming power of art and artistic expression. While rehearsing the The Party by Sławomir Mrożek, the inmates talk about crime and punishment, being cast out, rootlessness, virtues and the effects of the environment and circumstances on one’s personality. Their personal stories are intertwined with their characters’ to reveal different fates and different sorrows.

producer: Glória Halász
editor: Dávid Reisinger
camera: Dávid Reisinger
sound: Szilárd Horváth
music: Albert Márkos, Hunor G. Szabó

production info:
Beertok Kft.
Balzac u. 35.
1136 Budapest, Hungary
tel.: +36 70 635 28 03

selected filmography
Mari néni (2010) / Performance (2007) / KifestŐ (2006) / Sirály (2004)
MOTALKO - The Chronicle of a Petrol Station
Attila Kékesi / Hungary / 2010 / 32 / Hungarian
The chronicle of a gas station and its persevering owner surviving WWII, the communist regime, and its fall in Hungary.
Motalko reconstructs the family history of Tasziló Landthaller, owner of the first private Hungarian petrol station. Founded by his father in 1936, the petrol station remained in Taszi’s hands through the most troubled times in recent Hungarian history – World War II, post-war nationalization, and the fall of the socialist regime in Hungary. The documentary reconstructs the struggles of a man who managed to hold on to a gas station and keep it open in an era when it was virtually impossible to run a private business, and who fought for 40 years until finally he officially won his petrol station back after the regime change. The proud owner is still working and motorists passing by on road no.7 can still fill up at his place, just like 76 years ago.

producer: Miklós Havas
editor: Attila Kékesi
camera: Rudolf Péter Kiss
sound: Miklós Havas
music: Ferenc Darvas

production info:
HB Production
Naphegy u. 38.
1016 Budapest, Hungary
tel: + 36 30 375 4486

selected filmography
A forradalom arca – Egy pesti lány nyomában (2006) / Béke poraikra (2004) / Vargabetű (2002) / A kor szelleme (1998) / Hajni (1994)
There Was Once...
Gábor Kálmán / Hungary / 2011 / 103 min / Hungarian
Gyöngyi Magó, a teacher and a devoted researcher, uncovers the history of a once prosperous Jewish community and a forgotten chapter in the history of the town of Kalocsa.
“I have been researching the history of the Jews of the town from the time they settled there in 1840, and I would like to follow the lives of their descendants up to the present day. I regard both education and research as important. In Hungary, unfortunately, radical views have intensified recently and I try to fight them with my own means. I wasn’t born a Jew but I am a human being and I truly believe that I am on the right track,” says Gyöngyi Magó. The film follows the efforts of a teacher to reveal a once prosperous Jewish community and a forgotten chapter in the history of the town of Kalocsa.

producer: Gábor Garami, Gábor Kálmán
editor: Kate Amend
camera: Zsolt Tóth, Jon Dunham
sound: Joe Milner
music: Mark So

production info:
Cinema-Film, Gabor Kalman Productions
Gyarmat u. 36.
1145 Bp., Hungary
tel.: + 36 1 252-0078

selected filmography
Tizenöt francia építész Los Angelesben (2000) / Fordulópontok (sorozat) (1998) / Pályaválasztás (1986)
Szekeres Csaba / Hungary / 2010 / 75 / Hungarian
Unemployment and despair in the Roma community of Told – the whirlpool of poverty and the feeble hopes of breaking out.
Vortex was filmed over a period of six months in the village of Told, on the border with Romania in the north-eastern part of Hungary. It captures the everyday lives of Roma families, their battle to make a living despite the harsh conditions exacerbated by unemployment, poverty, and discrimination. The film focuses on the experiences of three families, their fears of losing their children, and the ever-present challenges of finding enough food to eat and wood to heat their houses. One of Vortex’s protagonists is Juli, who is determined to leave the village at any price. Another family struggles to save their son suffering from cancer, yet another is concerned about their five-year-old who does not talk. Life in the whirlpool of poverty with very little hope of escape.

producer: Pál Sándor, John M. Oates
editor: Sándor Kiss
camera: Csaba Szekeres
sound: László Zalányi
music: Jan Volsy – Miniatures

production info:
Hunnia Filmstúdió Kft.
koprodukciós partner: The Open University (UK)
Róna u. 174.
1145 Budapest, Hungary
tel: +36 1 221 1815

selected filmography
Nexus (2008) / Zozo (2006) / Ablak a múltra (2005) / Mami, blue – (2003) / Emberek – Homo provincialis (2002)
Wonderful Gladiators Student Reviews
Zsófi Kabarcz / Hungary / 2011 / 52 min / Hungarian
A film about the Baltazar Theatre - a unique professional theatre company in Hungary whose members are mentally challenged actors and actresses.
The Baltazar Theater is the only Hungarian professional acting group whose members are mentally challenged. The company was founded by Dóra Elek in 1998, inspired by the Belgian Théatre du Plantin. Though the actors are mentally disabled, their performance is measured by standard expectations rather than according to their abilities, so the stakes are high and the work is tough. The film follows the company during rehearsals for their new play 11 Commandments, revealing hard work, tensions and many interesting questions raised by the play itself. While disclosing a whole new dimension of theater and acting, Wonderful Gladiators also seeks to draw attention to the important role the Balthazar Theater plays in the social integration of the mentally challenged.

producer: Panna Boros, Marc B. Lorber
editor: Judit Feszt
camera: Gergő Somogyvári, Marcell Rév, Róbert Patócs, Gábor Tausz, Attila Tóth, Márton Vízkelety
sound: Béla Novák, Zoltán Vass, Ferenc Gerendai
music: Frenk & Szusza

production info
New Angle Team
Retek u. 32.
1024 Budapest, Hungary
tel.: + 36 30 396 6089

Birobidjan (Boros Pannával és Katz Dáviddal) (2008)