By JEFF HEINRICH, The Gazette, February 25, 2011
Yuri Berger thought it was time Montreal had a Hungarian film festival. Though born in Peru, he studied economics in Hungary, lived there for eight years, and his daughter was born there. His great-grandfather was Hungarian, too. As a Montrealer who programs film festivals for a living, Berger saw an opportunity. The result: Hungarian Film Week, a series screening tonight through March 3 at Cinéma du Parc.
"There's a new generation of young filmmakers from Hungary and they're not only showing their talent locally, but also internationally, they're doing well," Berger said. "So I saw a niche here. The only thing Montrealers know about Hungary is the music, the food and Béla Tarr, the big master (director). I said to myself, 'It's the right time to show some Hungarian films here.' "
Nine films are on the program: seven from Hungary and two by Hungarian-Canadian directors. The opener tonight is Bibliothèque Pascal, Hungary's official entry (not nominated) for the best foreignlanguage film at the Oscars. Despite the French name, this dazzling noir by director Szabolcs Hajdu actually takes place half in Romania, half in England - Liverpool, to be exact, where Bibliothèque Pascal is the name of a (fictitious) S&M nightclub. "It's a weird film," said Berger, 42. "It's a very unique universe, you will see. It's a special world they take us to."
Another film is Delta, by director Kornel Mundruczo, "a love story about a brother and sister in a faraway region of Hungary, where a very compact, very closed community is thrown into crisis," Berger said. Berger, who does film programming for Just for Laughs and the Cinéma du Parc, including the Latin American and Brazilian film festivals there, thinks Hungarian cinema is different from other national cinemas. "The Hungarian language has no connection to any other language in Europe - the closest is Finnish," he said. "So the Hungarians represent a unique vision of Eastern Europe, very reflective, with their own social and linguistic codes." The films he selected for the festival omit a few hot-button subjects: the mistreatment of Gypsies in present-day Hungary, for example, or any historical subjects such as the short-lived anti-Soviet revolution in 1956.
Instead, among others, there's:
The story of a mobile can-teen owner who trades lives with an uptown Budapest lawyer (Glasstiger 3, the topgrosser at the Hungarian box office last year);
A Canadian-made road-movie documentary about international artists (Travelling Light: Artists on the Move, directed by Tamas Wormser);
And a Canadian-made tragi-comedy about a religious hoax in Nova Scotia (Faith, Fraud and the Minimum Wage, directed by George Mihalka).
Organized with Magyar Filmunio and the Regroupement des artistes canadienshongrois, the film series also features a photography exhibition called Kamera Hungarica mounted by Gabor Szilasi.
The Hungarian Film Week begins tonight at 7 p.m. and continues through March 3 at Cinéma du Parc. Seven films are in Hungarian with English subtitles; the other two are in English.
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