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Yet another Hungarian film success in Cannes

Yet another Hungarian film success in Cannes

Zsófia Szilágyi’s One Day (Egy nap) competes for the Golden Camera Award at the Cannes Film Festival. One Day debuted on May 9 in the Critics’ Week section with great success.

The annual Cannes Film Festival’s 71st edition kicked off on May 8 and is scheduled to end on May 19. In 2018 the only Hungarian contestant is One Day, which appears in a parallel programme of the festival called Critics’ Week. As One Day is Zsófia Szilágyi’s first feature movie, her work gets the chance to be in the battle for the Golden Camera Award in Cannes. Results will be announced on the last day of the festival.

Zsófia Szilágyi graduated from the University of Pécs in 2002 having Hungarian as a major, then from SZFE (University of Theatre and Film Arts) in 2007 and within the frames of the Incubator Programme of MNF (Hungarian National Film Fund) she created One Day, her first feature film. The young director received a total of HUF 64 million to produce this piece.

The Hungarian female director and co-author of the screenplay was mainly directing short films previously, but she also was an assistant in creating Ildikó Enyedi’s Oscar-nominated On Body and Soul. Ildikó Enyedi was one of her influential teachers on SZFE, who herself won the Golden Camera Award with My 20th Century (Az én XX. századom) almost thirty years ago. Her latest work, On Body and Soul, got the Golden Bear for the best full-length film at the Berlin Film Festival last year. Besides that, she still teaches at SZFE.

Fina Aristic

Another student of the university worked on One Day as well; the film editor Máté Szórád is still studying at SZFE in Budapest. Other members of the team are Réka Mán-Várhegyi, the co-author of the screenplay and Balázs Domokos, the cameraman.

Ildikó Enyedi helped to choose the actress for the main role. Enyedi’s suggestion for the main part was Zsófia Szamosi, who plays a struggling mother in a bad marriage in the Hungarian version of the world-wide known HBO series Therapy, and is the frustrated music teacher in the Oscar-winning short film, Mindenki.

In One Day she plays a mother of three with an unfaithful husband, who is busy all day all night.

The working mother experiences life as a constant challenge and chance of failure. She not only works as an Italian language teacher but cooks, cleans the house and takes care of the children. Balancing private life and working life is not easy for her character, Anna.

Kristóf Forgács, also known as Leó Füredi, debuts on screen as her husband, Szabolcs. Szabolcs is a lawyer, whose workplace is full of stress because of all the responsibilities. At home, he is a caring person, who helps his wife with the kids a lot, but he gets stuck in this loop of mundane tasks as well and tries to set himself free by seeking for a lover.

The dialogues fit the contexts perfectly as if the lines were scripted from real-life situations. The film itself is a little bit Dogma-styled, as the only music heard is the music the characters are listening to. Their struggle with financial problems and time management seems real. The setting is created carefully and resembles a typical Hungarian home. The movie is realistic, almost naturalistic, although it is not a documentary, but a drama.

One Day depicts a typical 36 hours of a Hungarian mother. A lot of tension is squeezed into those hours which makes the film brilliant.

It is not about the usual image of parenthood full of happiness and smiling, but it shows that part as well. Being a mother is not a sweet dream sprinkled with laughs, the reality is not flawless – it is hard work with a few joyful moments good to remember.

Zsófia Szilágyi is not a mother herself, but she gained inspiration from the mothers around her. She shared in an interview to MNF that the core concept of the movie is based on an e-mail from a friend of her. This friend wrote down her timetable in detail indicating all the small tasks she has to deal with as a working mother. After that Szilágyi started to “expand her data collection” by speaking and spending time with families more and more to depict them accurately. The film was born, and many Hungarian reviews say she met this goal.

What do international reviews say?

According to Cineuropa “with hyper realism, One Day skilfully conveys alienation of parental life” and “all the classic panics of family life are revisited to perfection.”

In their summary, they praise multiple aspects of the movie: the acting, the shooting, the “sense of context” and “directorial prowess.”

The Hollywood Reporter sheds a spotlight on the hand-held style “that doesn’t stop assaulting the senses.” They think, however, that the movie is way too painfully honest for its audience and their vision is not about hitting box-offices, but “Szilágyi is clearly a name to watch.” THR’s standpoint is that the movie is so realistic about family life that the viewers can put themselves in the couple’s shoes, which, in this case, may evoke negative, almost depressing feelings in the potential audience.

Screendaily finds One Day though being about every-day life, “ an unexpectedly powerful drama.” Screendaily states One Day is a convincingly realist and “deeply relevant film that manages to turn 36 hours in the life of a worn-out mother-of-three into a small but powerful drama.” They see the after-life of the work on the bright side and propose further success and festival invitations for the movie.

One Day comes to Hungarian cinemas in this autumn.

Photo: MTI/EPA/Franck Robichon

Source: by Éva Stölkler – guest author

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