After Sticky Matters (Best Debut Feature at Hungarian Film Week 2002), Tamara (2004), White Palms (Directors’ Fortnight 2006) and Bibliothèque Pascal (Berlinale Forum 2010), Hungarian director Szabolcs Hajdu is preparing Mirage. The project will be presented at the co-production platform Paris Project, which will run from July 5-7 as part of the Paris Cinéma festival.
Produced by Mirage Film Studio and FilmPartners, the film will centre on François Faé, an African football player at the end of his career in a small town in Hungary. Suspected by his partners of having been paid to lose a match, he has to disappear for a while.
A vague acquaintance directs him to a farm run by a Romanian in the middle of the wild region of Puszta. François agrees to work there in exchange for a temporary hiding place. But he soon realises that in reality it is a modern-day slave camp where he has to fight for his freedom and then his life.
"Before the fall of Communism, the Puszta was a thriving agricultural region. Then, most of the farms having gone private went bankrupt and people were literally dying of hunger" explained Hajdu. "So some farms continued to operate without paying the workers. Fed on unsold produce and housed in old wagons or tents, they became scarcely more than the slaves of unscrupulous managers. Unknown to the authorities, these unlawful farms soon became a haven for wanted criminals.”
The director continued: “Added to the economic destitution was another change: the opening of the borders. Mirage also intends to shed light on the worrying issue of how Hungarians treat people from outside. My aim is to combine an exploration of these typically Hungarian themes with elements of thriller and film noir whilst capturing the strange beauty of Puszta to tell a story that is dramatic enough to have a universal impact."
The film, whose estimated budget is €1.6m, already has €850,000 in financing, including support from Katapult Film and TV2. The director and producers, who will be in attendance at Paris Project, are looking in particular for French co-production backing and an international seller.