The Game of Nerves
In the 1970s-early 80s, Hungary appropriated the Soviet practice of compulsory psychiatric treatment forcefully applied to political dissidents, seeking to isolate and contain political criticism. One of the protagonists in the documentary is lawyer Tibor Pákh, who spent 12 years in prison after 1956 Revolution. After he went on a hunger strike in protest, he was declared an “incurably mentally ill” in 1971 and underwent extensive electroconvulsive and insulin-coma “treatment." Another central figure in the film is László Rusai, who was also involuntarily treated in the 1980s at the Gárdony mental social home. While his case was publicly debated and a special committee was set up for his release at the time of his confinement, after the change of regime both cases were all but forgotten.
His first feature film Shooting Gallery (Céllövölde, 1989) premiered at the Cannes Directors' Fortnight, and received several awards at festivals. Two of his other features, Video Blues (Videoblues, 1992) and Abandoned (Torzók, 2000) were awarded in Locarno and Berlin respectively, and became, as many of his short films, real festival hits.