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Berlinale 2012...


..International Critics discuss Benedek Fliegauf’s Just the Wind (2012)

Hungarian filmmaker, Benedek (now Bence) Fliegauf returned home to make Csak A Szél (Just the Wind), which was released this February. Telling the story of a gypsy family living in an isolated shack in Hungary’s countryside, it follows a day in the life of four principle characters: a curious and sovereign young boy named Rio, his studious teenage sister named Anna, their mother Mari who works as a cleaning woman in the neighboring town and her father Tomi, who is recovering from a recent stroke. The film’s course of action is inspired by true events that occurred in Hungary that are far from resolved. Seven people died in a series of violent attacks that were carried out against Romani families in their homes by a group of racist thugs across 2008 and 2009. The members of this unusual family move uneasily through their daily routines under the hovering threat that they will be the next victims. All the while, they dream of moving to Canada to be reunited with the patriarch of the clan. The majority of the film’s runtime depicts a gradual mounting of anxiety from the point of view of each of the characters – patiently studying their every twitch and mannerism with the aesthetically-organic hand of a documentarian until just before the end, when the crescendo hits.

Just_the_Wind_still1A Hungarian-German-French co-production, it was awarded the Silver Bear at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Also referred to as the Jury Grand Prix, it is seen as the second most prestigious prize from the festival, after the prize for best motion picture. Its international reception, however, was met with mixed criticism, especially given the consistently controversial nature of the Roma people throughout Europe. A marginalized minority displaced throughout the continent, the presence of which can be related to by most inhabitants of the EU, critical opinion from Germany, Austria and Italy rang out in harmony. The majority of them expressed reverence for the visually stunning effects borne out of the contemplative manner in which Fliegauf’s treated his subjects. They also shared a nearly intuitive recognition his representation of Romanis stemming from their own experience of seeing them as society’s outsiders. On the other side of the Atlantic, as expressed by Dan Faireu (ScreenDaily), Jordan Mintzer (TheHollywoodReporter) and Alissa Simon (Variety), the American consensus on the film thus far seems to be that, despite its slow pace, the film is masterful in realism with its subtle ability to convey the terror on the faces and in the gestures of its protagonists amidst a backdrop of hopeless squalor. 

As far as nationally-centered criticism of the film, the most controversial opinion came from the government of Fliegauf’s home country. Népszava is a left-wing Hungarian news outlet that originally served as the paper of the Hungarian Social Democracy Party. The paper’s Peter Hamvay recently made a compelling observation regarding the film’s censored reception at home, citing the country’s Prime Minister, Victor Orbán as its main detractor. In an article entitled “The Secret Diaries of Viktor Or Viktor Orbán - aged 48 ¾,” the far-right daily, FreeHungary.hu imagined the recent personal scribblings of the PM in which he describe his feelings on various current events. On February 16th, one entry is dedicated to the nomination of Fliegauf’s film for the Berlinale’s Silver Bear award. This satirized version of Orbán claims he’s spread a rumor throughout Hungary that Fliegauf is a “gypsy ass licker” who deserves to be punished. He defends himself in claiming that every country in Europe is just as guilty for mistreating their Roma communities as Hungary and goes on to lay out a rough version of the reasons why that will be listed in a pamphlet to be handed out at the Berlinale. These are certainly harsh estimations made by a radical perspective in an attempt toward spoofing, however - the pamphlet was, in fact, distributed. Indeed, the Hungarian Ministry of Justice and Administration felt compelled to release more than one statement regarding their stance on the film. In essence, they wished to highlight their efforts to support the Romani community and the fact that the film was not based in actual truth. It was an imagining by Fliegauf that prodded further into a national wound. The wound has remained open inasmuch as the trial proceedings regarding the events that inspired the film are still in progress. According to Secretary of State Zoltán Balog, the hope is ultimately that this film enables the world to see, in the face of atrocities similar to those it portrayed, that Hungary is prepared to tackle these delicate issues of xenophobia, racism and class-struggle that are prevalent throughout the EU.

Just_the_Wind_still2

 

REVIEWS CITED

Faireu, Dan. “Just the Wind,” <http://www.screendaily.com/reviews/the-latest/just-the-wind/5038203.article/>. February 16, 2012.
Gorondi, Pablo. “Hungarian film on Roma killings at Berlin Festival,” <http://articles.boston.com/2012-02-01/ae/31013676_1_roma-family-hungarian-film-roma-community/>.  February 1, 2012.
Hamvay, Peter. “Berlini diagnosis,” <http://www.nepszava.hu/articles/article.php?id=522757/>. February 20, 2012.
Kurz, Joachim. “Just the Wind,” <http://www.kino-zeit.de/blog/berlinale/just-the-wind/>. February 17, 2012. 
Maurer, Elisabeth. “Csak a Szel/Just the Wind | Berlinale 2012 – Competition,” <http://www.negativ-film.de/2012/02/csak-szel-just-wind-berlinale-2012.html/>. February 17, 2012. 
Mintzer, Jordan. “Just the Wind: Berlin Film Review” February 16, 2012. <http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/just-the-wind-berlin-film-review-291884/>. February 16, 2012.
Simon, Alissa. “Just the Wind: Csak a szel (Hungary-Germany-France)” <http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117947101/>. February 16, 2012. 
Zappoli, Giancarlo. “Just the Wind” <http://www.mymovies.it/film/2012/justthewind/>. [Date unspecified]

SOURCES CONSULTED

[Author Unspecified]. “The Secret Diaries of .<http://www.freehungary.hu/comments/806-the-secret-diaries-of-viktor-orban-aged-48-f.html/>. February 22, 2012.
Balogh, Eva S. “Only the Wind: Hungarian success at the Berlin International Film Festival,” <http://esbalogh.typepad.com/hungarianspectrum/2012/02/only-the-wind-hungarian-success-at-the-berlin-international-film-festival.html/>. February 19, 2012.
Carret, Tatiana. “Cinéma : «Csak a szél» remet les Roms en selle,”<http://www.hu-lala.org/2012/02/22/cinema-csak-a-szel-remet-les-roms-en-selle/>. February 

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