Four Hungarian movies at the Cannes Film Festival
We Hungarians are everywhere. In the fashion world, on the catwalk, I’m pretty sure I could name three world stars off the top of my head who have Hungarian ancestors. We are in the scientific fields and yes, in the film world too.
In recent years, there have been quite a few Hungarian films nominated for Oscars, only a few of which have been turned into gold statues, but we are still incredibly proud of them.
The Cannes Film Festival is currently underway. As all epidemic restrictions were lifted in France on the 30th of June, there is no curfew and cinemas are at 100% capacity, but you must show proof of immunity in order to enter the festival area and also need to wear a mask.
Eighty of the more than 2,000 films entered for the festival were invited to the official program, including four Hungarian films.
Ildikó Enyedi‘s latest feature film, “The Story of My Wife”, is in the running for the Palme d’Or, while Oliver Rudolf‘s graduation film “FONICA M-120” has been selected for the Cinéfondation program, which showcases the best of film schools. Both films will be screened on July 14th.
Kornél Mundruczó‘s film “Evolution” was screened on July 11th in the new Cannes Premiere program, which features innovative works by established filmmakers who regularly return to the festival. This time, the restored classics, Cannes Classics, included Márta Mészáros‘ “Diary for My Children”, which was screened on July 12th.
Let’s talk a little about the films in particular.
Ildikó Enyedi, the director of the Golden Bear Award-winning and Oscar-nominated film “Of Body and Soul”, has a new film, “The Story of My Wife”. The film is based on the 1946 Hungarian novel by Milán Füst, one of Enyedi‘s favorites, as she first read it when she was a teenager. The up-and-coming Dutch actor Gijs Naber plays the role of Jakob Störr, a noble-minded ship captain who agrees to a bet in a cafe to marry the first woman who walks in.
Fortunately for him, this woman is Léa Seydoux, who plays Lizzy, the “wife” of the film’s title, and spontaneously agrees. However, during their years together, the captain finds it difficult to understand this mysterious woman and tries to control her unsuccessfully.
The audience at the 74th Cannes Film Festival on Sunday night applauded Kornél Mundruczó‘s film “Evolution”, which was screened out of competition in the new section of the festival, the Cannes Premiere selection.
The film opens with a baby being found by cleaners in the gas chambers of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then we witness the family drama between the survivor, now an old man, and his daughter in his Budapest apartment. In the third part, we follow the daughter and granddaughter’s life in Berlin and see how difficult it is for a family to come to terms with its own past.
In addition to passing on traumas, the film, at once poetic and surreal, also seeks answers to the individual relationship to Jewish identity in a Berlin full of contradictions, but – unlike Mundruczó‘s previous films – it ends on a positive note, with a hopeful note.
Speaking in the Debussy Room of the Festival Palais in Cannes, which seats around 1,000 people, before the world premiere, artistic director Thierry Frémaux pointed out that Kornél Mundruczó is a regular guest at the festival, and that in 2014 his film “White God”, which won the top prize in the second main competition section, Un certain regard, was screened in the same venue.
The 24-minute “Fonica M-120” is a 2020 diploma film by Rudolf Oliver. The protagonist of the film is Áron a 10-year-old lonely boy. He lives with his mother in a room of a junk motel where he helps her run the bar. Hovering around the adults, Áron creates an extraordinary imaginary world in which the main characters are his father, a song, and a music box.
One day a new guest arrives at the motel turning Áron‘s world upside down. He has to make a choice where to belong. “I wanted to make a film about a world made up of a little boy’s memory fragments, his attachment to his childhood and his first love'”– noted Olivér Rudolf.
In recent years, the prestigious Cinéfondation program of exam and diploma films, which is part of the so-called “official selection” of the Cannes Film Festival, has included early works by Kornél Mundruczó, Ágnes Kocsis, Bálint Szimler, György Mór Kárpáti, Nadja Andrasev, among others. The seventeen graduate films in the 2021 Cinéfondation selection were selected from 1835 entries.
And last but not least, the restored version of Márta Mészáros‘s “Diary for My Children” was screened again at the 74th Cannes Film Festival, where it had already won the Grand Jury Prize in 1984. The film was screened in a program of restored versions of the great classics, with the participation of cinematographer Nyika Jancsó.
In the first part of the Diary series, Mészáros indirectly explored his own youth. The writer-director, who celebrates her 90th birthday this year, is cited as one of the world’s most important female filmmakers, a career colleague of Agnès Varda and Vera Chytilová, who has been directing auteur films since 1968. For the sixth time, the Cannes Film Festival has selected Hungarian classics restored by the National Film Institute for the Cannes Classics program.