It’s true that every year there is a crop of locally made films that are promising and make ripples internationally by winning prizes at film festivals and awards ceremonies. Some, most notably Son of Saul, have gone onto become global phenomena. This year is starting out with exceptional promise on the local front, with several Hungarian language films showing great promise, and a few bringing home prizes from major film festivals.
First is Nyalintás Nesze, or, the Noise of Licking, by animator Nadja Andrasev, which won a joint third prize at the Cannes Cinefondation programme awards for the best works submitted by film students. The nine-minute digital animation was based on the short story “Forgiveness” by Hungarian writer Ádám Bodor, and was completed while the director was still a student at Moholy Nagy, a prominent Budapest art school. Granted, this is from last year, but we like it enough to include it anyway. You can see the preview here:
Next is a film that enjoyed a huge success at the Berlin Biennale, winning the Golden Bear. That is of course On Body and Soul by Hungarian film-maker Ildikó Enyedi. By all accounts it was an underdog, but the ‘dramedy’ impressed audiences and judges with its sensitive treatment of two slaughterhouse employees who are comically/tragically drawn to each. The synopsis, as per Cineruopa is: "What would happen if you met someone who dreamt the same as you or, to be more precise, had been meeting you in the same world every night for years? Would you be pleased? Or would you feel that you had been in some way robbed? And what if this specific individual didn’t exactly appeal to you? What if you actually hated that person?" These are all good questions, and apparently the judges were pleased with the answers, as the film also picked up three other awards from Berlin's independent juries, including best film honors from FIPRESCI, the association of international film critics. Critics also responded well to the pic. The Hollywood Reporter called the movie “quirky, deadpan and sometimes rather brutal,” while Daily Variety said the film “blends mournfully poetic whimsy with stabs of visceral brute reality.” See the (Hungarian language) preview here:
Recently released the film Állampolgár, or, The Citizen, won best screenplay at the Porto Fantasporto Film Festival, Best Drama at San Jose Cinequest, and the Students’ Choice Award at the the Den Haag Movies that Matter Festival. Directed by Roland Vranik, the feature-length film tells the story of an African refugee’s quest to become an ideal Hungarian citizen. The film has received fantastic reviews locally and is generating a buzz on the film festival circuit. Shot with non-professional actors, and supported by the Hungarian Film Fund, the movie appears to be set to have a life beyond Hungary. The Hungarian trailer can be found below:
And of course there was this year’s biggest success as awards go, "Mindenki" or “Sing”, which won the Oscar for best Foreign Language short. Kristof Deák’s film revolves around a new student at a Hungarian primary school who finds a way to stand up to a choral instructor, an authoritative figure seeking to silence her in order to better win a prize trip abroad. The Oscar nomination is one more laurel for the film, which already won the Grand Prize at the Short Shorts Film Festival in Tokyo and Best Short Film at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival as well as several other international honors. Preview below:
While its wonderful to see so many large-scale productions coming to Hungary to take advantage of expert crews and superbly priced production and locations, it’s equally gratifying to know that the local scene is thriving, and only getting better.