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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



'The Maiden Danced to Death' with Endre Hules




 Interview with Endre Hules!  


ME: Hi Endre. First, can you speak about how you got into acting, writing and directing? In which order did you start and when did you know that you had to make films?



ENDRE: I started out in the theatre as an actor, but almost immediately began writing and directing, as well. I studied acting, then I completed a degree as a director at the National Conservatory of Theatre and Film in Budapest. I also studied with renowned theatre gurus, Jerzy Grotowski, Eugenio Barba, Peter Brook and others and taught theatre around the world. When I moved to New York, I realized that theatre had a completely different function there and decided to try my hand in film. I had to completely "retool." I started with acting again, then continued with scriptwriting; I went to the American Film Institute to study producing; until, years later, I got my first chance to direct. For me, both theatre and film are a means of communication. Just like acting, writing or directing are different tools serving the same purpose. I can't imagine one without the other and I use the language that will work best and reach the most people.



ME: Wow! That's fascinating that you are marrying both worlds of theater and cinema. Rob Marshall and Baz Luhrmann do this as well but it is still uncommon in cinema and yet completely avant-garde. Can you speak first about The Maiden Danced to Death? what is it about and what inspired you to write this story?



ENDRE: The Maiden Danced to Death is the story of two brothers, who used to run a dance company together in Hungary during the Communist era. The older one was a rebel, who provoked the authorities until they decided to get rid of him and canceled his passport while he was abroad. The younger one was a conformist and managed to cope and keep the dance studio running. Twenty years later - after the demise of Communism - the older brother returns and their life choices come back to haunt them. The inspiration came from the very real antagonism between the sizeable Hungarian diaspora - mostly political refugees - and those who remained in Hungary. I was always wondering if these suspicions could be resolved somehow so those groups could help each other better. This film is part of that thinking process.



ME: And I think it is so important a theme. Plus the world should really learn more about modern day Hungary, especially through its theater and cinema. When do you expect the film to be released?



ENDRE: The film is not ready yet, but the few trial screenings we had at both sides of the Atlantic drew very favorable responses. We plan to open early next year.



ME: Can you tell us where you filmed it and if you have any stories while filming?



ENDRE: We shot the film in Hungary, Slovenia and Canada. I am still digesting the stories.



ME: Do you want to make a statement with this film? Can you explain how your film reflects Hungarian society and also why it is also a universal story and not just one close to home?



ENDRE: The story of the "Prodigal Son" is as old as history. Leaving the place one grew up in - whether it's a small town or the country, or even a religious or ideological community - means severing ties to a certain degree. It changes us, and we view what we left behind from a different perspective. It also makes us strange and suspicious - somewhat of a traitor - in the eyes of those who stayed. This is universal.



ME: For sure. In that case, I am the ‘prodigal daughter' and have experienced this ‘traitor' and ‘suspicion' firsthand. Please tell us about cinema in Hungary. It is really coming up in the world, isn't it?



ENDRE: Hungarian cinema has a rich past. Many early Hollywood players, William Fox, Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, Billy Wilder, Michael Curtiz and others came from Hungary. More recently, Vilmos Zsigmond and Laszlo Kovacs dazzled Hollywood with their brilliant cinematography on groundbreaking films. Vilmos returned home to shoot our film at the age of 80. Istvan Szabo, who remained in Hungary, also collected several Oscar nominations and an Oscar. Since the collapse of Communism, Hungarian cinema has gone through an identity crisis, and the financial debacle has been devastating as well. But an extremely talented new generation is emerging, so I'm sure, you'll hear from them soon.



ME: I did see one Hungarian film this year at the Palm Spring Film Festival, Kameleon by Krisztina Goda but that was only one Hungarian film! So, what are your plans next?



ENDRE: My nearest and most important plan is to finish "Maiden" as best as I can, and it takes just about all my time and energy. But I do have a number of finished scripts waiting to see light, camera and action (and not in the least, financing) as well as a slew of ideas ready to be developed. In this business, as you know, you're as good as your last movie, so it depends on the success of Maiden, what do I get to do next.



ME: I love that! ‘You're as good as your last movie'. Very true! What would you say to new indie filmmakers worldwide. Any advice you can give?



ENDRE: Perseverance. As a friend of mine told me just this morning, "Filmmaking is such a complex and convoluted process, it's a miracle movies ever get made." It's not always your fault if your movie doesn't get made - but if you give up, there is no one else you can blame.



ME: Endre, you're truly an inspiration. Thank you for your passion and insight. Please finish ‘Maiden' ASAP as I know I cannot wait to see it and I'm sure it will be received with open arms at festivals worldwide. Bring us to Hungary and Hungary to the world and keep making the miracle happen.  Thank you!




Written by, Vanessa McMahon October 21, 2010



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