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CineFest Hungary, a well mixed bag


By Alex Deleon, Miskolc

September 19, 2013 


As befits an international film festival, Cinefest Miskolc offers a mixed bag of new international features in conpetition, a cache of old classics, non-competition information films, a strong slate of docs and shorts, a goodly turnout of international directors here to present their films, and seminars withh prominent visiting professionals.   The media presence is still primarily from within Hungary but can be expected to expand in the future as this ten year old festival becomes better known. 


A listing of films viewed so far with directors, country and basic themes: 

Halima's WayAnton Ostojic, Croatia;  Jugoslav war.

Krugovi,  (Circles)' Serbia, Sedan Golubovic; Jugoslav war.

Young and Beautiful,  (Jeune et Belle) François 0zon, France: 

   sex  between young female and older men,  pornography.

Floating Skyscrapers, (Plynace Wiezowce), Tomasz Wasilewski, Poland; 

   sex, gayness between males, bisexuality, pornography.

Il Futuro, (the future) Alice Scherson (Italy) / sex, young female and much older man, (Rutger Hauer!), pornography => [Note: pornography plays a role in all of these sex-oriented fiĺms ...pointing up one of the accepted ills of contemporary society]

Iron Sky, Tino Vuorensala, Finland;  Sci-fi, Nazis (A highly imaginative comedy to say the least -- surviving Nazis now live on the dark side of the moon ! -- (Shook many people out of the doldrums at Berlin last year)

Glorious Deserters, (Deserteurs), Gabriele Neudecker, Austria;

     The Nazis in retrospect, from an Austrian perspective, told as first-person narratives by young men who were ostracized after the war.

You and the night,  (Les rencontres d'après), Yann Gonzalez, France;    

         Avant garde experimentalism, sex, surrealism, weirdness

        with - Alain Fabien Delon, son of a famous father! (as its principal  

         saving grace)

Sugar, Ryan Fleck/Anna Boden, USA; [Info] Immigration, race relations, and baseball ... after a fashion.  xlnt non-professional black cast.



Notes to an American friend on the most exotic film of the week seen with a surprisingly lengthy Q&A with the director that went on until near Midnight. The title is "SUGAR", the name of the hero, and this American indie qualifies as 'exotic' here on three grounds; (1) the subject is American baseball -- more exotic in Hungary than soccer or rugby is in the States, (2) not only baseball, but Minor League, Bush league baseball, and (3) the whole business seen through the eyes of black Spanish speaking players from the Dominican Republic!

You'll probably never get to see it because it was released in 2008 as an HBO/American Film Showcase production and has not had any public circulation to speak of, but i'm just telling you about it because it was so off-the-wall weird -- especially turning up in a place called "Meesh-colts" in the Hungarian outback!

The whole first half hour takes place in the Dominican Republic,  which shares half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (Columbus landed there) with Haiti, the poorest country in the world -- and the language spoken was a dialect of Spanish so thick I had to read the Hungarian subtitles to follow it. 

The main guy Miguel "Sugar" Santos is a young good looking talented pitcher who is spotted by an American baseball scout and picked up by one of the low level Kansas City farm teams. From there it segues to a small baseball town in Iowa where Sugar is assigned to a very proper church going Grace before dinner religious white family who are baseball fans -- to live with them and learn English. They have a squeaky clean blonde daughter who will start making him forget his true love back home, and it goes on from there to something very different from the success stories we are conditioned to expect from sports minded films of this kind.

There are lots of baseball scenes, mostly intended to illustrate Sugar's curve ball prowess, but pitching is not the stuff that motion picture suspense is made of, so the baseball scenes are more or less background filler for Sugar's personal drama which is the body of the film.

No time for deails here but I can tell you that it ends up in Porto Rican New York with numerous unexpected twists and turns. Basically a Spanish language film inhabited mostly by black non-actors, which gives it a kind of semi-documentary authenticity you would never get with somebody like Denzil Washington in the lead.

A real one-of-a-kinder that raised many questions from an intelligent Hungarian gathering -- far more than I thought it would.  But no shit -- a black baseball flick in the backwoods of Hungary is almost an event in itself.  I wouldn't say that I loved this film but it was certainly worth sitting through and sticking around afterward merely for its uniqueness if nothing else. A great baseball film it was not, but as a problematic Caribbean immigration film it works on multiple levels. And as a Black film all it needed would br a couple of songs by Lena Horne to make it an instant classic.

Directed in tandem by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Jose Rijo, an amateur actor with charisma to burn, was impressive as the titular hero "Sugar". Director Ryan Fleck was here to present the film and field audience questions.

OTHER directors who visited Miskolc during the week were Finn Timo Vuorensala of "Iron Sky", Arsen Anton Ostojic of Croatia, Sean Ellis, British director of "metro Manila" and "Anthony Chen of "ilo ilo"' -- not a bad turnout for an as yet relatively modest regional festival

In addition American director Alexander Payne of "Nebraska" sent a warm greeting to the closing night audience via closed circuit television, during which he noted two Hungarian "connections": One of the characters in the film is named Mrs. N-A-G-Y - a typical hungarian name which he spelled out, and the wife of one of the screen writers is Hungarian, so there you have it -- from Nebraska to Miskolc with love.

Internationally famous sand animation artist, Ferenc Cakó, is serving as a member of a savvy international jury. Seen here with Ilovely wife Ildiko at the venerable festival hotel Pannonia.


The subject was assisted suicide:

The Italian film, Miele  was another unusual subject, and actress, Jasmine Trinca -- exceptionally beautiful, has a perfect face, globular eyes and slim body and you simply cannot keep yours eyes off her -- even dressed as she is, unglamorously in jeans, and with boyishly close cropped hair.

Again a story (third time this week) of a relationship between a young woman and a much older man;  Irene and Grimaldi.

Irene, nick named "Miele" (honey) has an unusual job which requires her to take trips to Mexico to procure dog killer, Latuna, ostensibly "to put down dogs", but actually to put terminally ill patients out of their misery. 

The subject is Euthanasia, and the complicated psychology of people who want to end it all.  Irene is an illegal suicide assistant and gives the applicants every chance to change their minds, but in the end it is Mr. Grimaldi, a 70 year old man in perfect health  but simply tired of living, who will make her change her own mind about the grisly way she has chosen to make a living -- administering illegal drugs and poisons to people who want to die. 

A bit thin in story line but the hypnotically beautiful lead actress turns  it into a compelling sit through ; Jasmine Trinca, 31, was the actress playing Irene. The pic was directed by well known Italian actress Valeria Golino, her first turn behind the cameras, a promising debut.  

Trinca, a leading light in Italian films since 2000, received the Italian Golden Globe "Nastro d'argento" best actress award this year for her work in "Miele" and thevfilm itself was screenednat Cannes in "Un certain regard" where it won a commendation by the Ecumenical jury.

NEBRASKA, the prestige film chosen to close the festival following the awards ceremony, is the kind of picture you have to respect because it is the work of a respected director, shot in sober black and white, and features an iconic Hollywood villain, Bruce Dern, 77, in an unrecognizable twilight years role, for which he was awarded a best actor distinction at Cannes this year.  I must confess that I found it extremely boring and thought that the role of Woody, the grizzly senile elderly hero, did not require much acting and could have been done by almost anybody. The feisty wife was a much more interesting character but then, there is no accounting for French perceptions of Hollywood -- after all over there Jerry Lewis is regarded as a Great Director.


"Ilo Ilo" the Singaporean competition entry was a satisfying if slightly surprising choice for the top festival Pressburger Prize, but the German "Nothing Bad Can Happen" which took the second prize was a compete piece of dreck with absolutely nothing good in it to redeem the violence and psychotic cruelty presented -- the kind of exercise in evil that makes the Texas Chainsaw Massacre seem joyful by comparison. Supposedly based on real events --the torture and murder of a young German Jesus Freak in the Hamburg area -- but does every case of torture,mayhem, and pointless murder need to be preserved on film, just because it happens to be based on some fait divers reported in the boulevard press? One wonders what the relevant jury was thinking on this one, but one really doesn't want to know or givvashit.

All in all the tenth Miskolc CineFest showed every sign of a small regional festival on the verge of wider recognition and acceptance as a serious player on the film festival circuit.


Alex, Hotel Pannonia, Miskolc


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