Ildikó Enyedi, a master of contemporary cinema from Hungary, will be a guest at the 18th New Horizons International Film Festival.
During the festival, our retrospective will cover her most important films, including On Body and Soul, awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, and My Twentieth Century, a Golden Camera winner at Cannes. Dorota Segda, who plays the main role in the latter film, will also be at the festival in Wrocław.
Piotr Czerkawski writes about the nature of Enyedi's work for New Horizons.
Enyedi has led one of the most colorful artistic lives in recent memory. It began with an earthquake when the Hungarian filmmaker received a Golden Camera at the Cannes Festival for her debut, My Twentieth Century (1989). The 1990s lacked such spectacular successes, however, and involved an intense effort to establish herself at the forefront of European arthouse cinema. Then an unexpected disaster struck: for 18 long years, Enyedi was unable to secure financing for her next project. Although she made short films and television series, and also devoted herself to teaching, the world of cinema seemed to have forgotten about her. Fortunately, Enyedi proved she had another powerful punch left in her. With On Body and Soul (2018), a Golden Bear winner at the Berlinale, she reminded us that she is a European filmmaker with her own unmistakable style. You could bet right now that Enyedi's work, with its combination of lyricism, lightness and a sense of humor, will prove to be a discovery for New Horizons audiences on the level of that of Hala Hartley or Leos Carax.
Drawing on the logic of dreams and immersed in the world of classic fairy tales, literally anything can happen in Enyedi's films. In My Twentieth Century, for example, the main thread of the story is abandoned for a few minutes to make room for a story told by a gorilla locked up in a zoo. This sort of treatment demonstrates the director's aversion to formulas and templates, which she nurtured in the 1970s, when she was part of the experimental group Indigo. In rebelling against such formulas, Enyedi's films are based on looking at the world with a cheerful sense of astonishment. This is shared by the director's favorite characters: outsiders discovering the power inherent both in themselves and in other people. In those moments when they manage to make use of this, there is something heroic about them: they're ready take risks and go beyond their comfort zone. Perhaps Enyedi's greatest achievement is that she can capture this miracle just when it is springing to life.
We can see this in the scene in My Twentieth Century when the anarchist decides against detonating a bomb after looking into the eyes of her would-be victim. Another example comes from Simon, the Magician (1999), one of the most romantic and at the same time funniest sequences in contemporary cinema. Here, the title character, a hypnotist from Budapest, meets a pretty girl on a street in Paris. Although he doesn't speak French and he answers every question randomly with "Oui, oui" or "Non, non," both characters sense that they could communicate without words.
There are many more paradoxical meetings in Enyedi's films. In On Body and Soul, feelings arise unexpectedly between the taciturn and withdrawn workers of a slaughterhouse. My Twentieth Century in turn tells the story of the odyssey of twins separated in childhood, who seemingly differ in nearly way: temperament, value system and lifestyle. Regardless, both women (Dorota Segda with a bravura performance as both twins) have a deep desire to be around one another and believe in the possibility of being reunited in the future.
Where does Enyedi get this maniacal tendency to bring opposites together? She has declared herself to be a diligent reader of Carl Gustav Jung and a believer in the concept of "collective unawareness," which says that our psyche, although strongly individual, is equipped with a set of identical patterns for reacting, thinking and experiencing. Enyedi therefore seems to be saying in her films that we are surprisingly similar to one another, and understanding each other seems to be easier than we might think. The extraordinary optimism stemming from this conclusion is yet another testimony to the boldness and artistic originality of the maker of On Body and Soul.