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Prima Primavera Won “Special Jury Prize” at the Varna International Film Festival
Prima Primavera is the new Hungarian feature film that is heard of the most recently. Directed by János Edelényi and written by János Edelényi, Paul Salamon and Endre Hules, the 2008 film is on its tour of glory: first shown in February at the 40th Hungarian Film Week, the film has been awarded at the Varna International Film Festival and is now headed toward the 54th Valladolid International Film Festival in Spain.
An alumni of the National Academy of Theater and Film in Budapest as well as the Polish Grotowski's Laboratory Theater and the International School of Theatrical Anthropology in Germany amongst others, Endre Hules' career arches over acting, directing, writing and teaching. He has received many awards for his works and is a producing fellow at the AFI.
A story of self-discovery and attaining peace with not only the outer world but with one's own self, Prima Primavera is about an odd couple hitting the road. The universe of Gábor, a child hidden in the body of a middle-aged man, is shattered to pieces when his mother is murdered during a bank robbery. Accompanied by Jolie, a young woman who was born on the shadier side of life, they embark on a journey to find out whether one may get a second chance from life. But being the only two witnesses to the murder, their lives are in jeopardy and they must run for their lives.
In the following you may find an interview with Endre Hules, one of the screenwriters of Prima Primavera, on occasion of the film's success.
Prima Primavera, a film you wrote, recently won the "Special Jury Prize" along with the "Best Actress" prize at the Varna International Film festival. What do these prizes mean to you? How do you think the success of this Hungarian-British-Bulgarian-Dutch film will affect Hungarian filmmaking? Do you think it will encourage contemporary Hungarian filmmaking?
First of all, full disclosure: I wrote the film with the director, János Edelényi and Paul Salamon, based on János‘ idea. It was one of those long-distance collaborations over the Internet, Skype and telephone. We then visited the Festivals and the Markets together and separately to pull the coproduction together. It was a Herculean task that looked impossible more often than hopeful and these awards, as well as Andor Lukats‘ Best Actor Award at the Budapest Film Week earlier, are an incredible honor and a validation for the many years of work by all of us involved.
The success of a coproduction like this may mean that there will be others (hopefully my next film among them). We have heard ad nauseam that the Hungarian film market is too small to support a film industry. It would be true even if Hungarian films had better attendance. The only remedy is to expand into the European and world film markets. The exchange between foreign and Hungarian film professionals can create a flow of new ideas and cultural exchanges and expand their audience - their market. There will always be films that can only be made in Hungarian, by Hungarians, and the integrity of those must be preserved, but it would be much easier against the backdrop of a healthy and sustainable film industry.
The main underlying question of the film is whether there is any hope for those who were born on the wrong side of the tracks? Do you think that this controversial issue should be more in the focus of today's film art?
I think art always rooted for the underdog, and that's as it should be. Not only because they are the ones who need protection most, but because the fortunate ones need their compassion awakened. It's easy to take for granted the gifts we have: our education, our social standing, our background, things we are born with or into. When that happens, people dismiss the troubles of others as a "natural phenomenon" or "fate" or the "survival of the fittest," and close their hearts and minds. This hardened attitude leads to the entrenchment of unjust arrangements and occasionally horrendous crimes against those we refuse to understand. One of art's many tasks is to facilitate the communication and the compassion among people who may not ever meet in real life.
Looking at your website, one finds that you are an actor, a writer, a director, even a teacher. Who do you really consider you are?
Throughout all my life I have been wearing many hats. Sometimes one would dominate, sometime the other, depending on the projects and the opportunities. I consider acting, writing and directing different sides of the same task (add producing to it, if you will) - delivering a message to an audience. I couldn't do one without the other. I use my experience as an actor when I write a character or direct an actor, and I imagine how the scene will look like when I prepare for a role. If I had to choose one, I would probably say that I am primarily a director, as it is the central connection. Once somebody asked me, if everybody does their job on a set, what does the director do? I had to answer him: all of it...
You are working on a new film as writer and director. "The Maiden Danced to Death" is the story of two brothers -- two dancers -- in post-Communist Hungary. While one of them left, the other decided to stay behind and only after twenty years do they reunite again. And so the dance begins. Nowadays, it is somehow fashionable in Hungary to look back twenty years into history when the regime change took place. Do you have a personal message with this film? Do you think that this film and such films in general will be able to reckon with the old shadows?
Films by themselves will never dispel the shadows of the past, but they may help to shed some light into the corners. It's like therapy: the session gives an opportunity to talk about the issues, but it only helps if the patient wants the change. We can bring up questions, present situations, tackle taboos and if we do it in an entertaining and compelling way, the audience will come on a short journey with us, and hopefully keep mulling them over after they go home. My primary interest in the story of these two fictional brothers is the issue of the Hungarian diaspora - and, of course, the more general question of reconciliation. When I was growing up in Hungary, I remember the envied and hated pariahs who returned from the West for a brief visit under strict police surveillance - toting razor blades and nylon stockings. We received them as paroled criminals and accepted their gifts as atonement for their betrayal - even though many of them left to save their lives. "Defector" was a dirty word and I shuddered when it was first applied to me. After 1989, I expected a quick reconciliation between the Hungarians in the mother country and those living abroad. It didn't really happen. The division, although more subtle, is still there. I still feel anger, an unspoken call for an apology or a tearful confession of failure for the choice I made decades ago - a choice that went through the mind of everyone at the time, even those who decided against it. We have lived two different outcomes since parting at that crossroad, but does it have to divide us two decades after the reason that choice had to be made is defunct? That's the question I try to open up for discussion in my film: throw two people from the same culture and background, who made a different choice twenty years earlier into an arena, and let them go at it; opening up old wounds and taking no prisoners. With plenty of humor, music and dance, of course.
For more information, go to http://www.primaprimavera.com/
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