Just the Wind is star of Hungarian Day at TIFF
by Stefan Dobroiu
06/06/2012 - Together with the Romanian Days sidebar, the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) (June 1-10) invites every year the newest (and best) Hungarian productions in the Hungarian Day selection. This year, the star is without doubt Bence Fliegauf's Just The Wind [trailer, film focus], winner of the Jury Grant Prix at this year's Berlinale, a minimalist thriller inspired by real events.
It's hard to resist the excellent screenplay and powerful story: after a family is killed in the neighbourhood, Mari (Katalin Toldi), a cleaning woman, and her children Anna (Gyöngyi Lendvai) and Rio (Lajos Sárkány) are increasingly afraid but look forward to being reunited with their husband/father, who lives in Canada and is waiting for them.
Under DoP Zoltán Lovasi's loving and attentive camera, the characters reveal themselves slowly, convincingly played by a cast of largely non-professional actors. Lovasi is always close to Mari, Anna and Rio, always following them one step behind and slowly covering their bodies whenever they stop, sometimes so near that it may become uncomfortable for the viewer. But this only until the viewer gradually feels the dread of the characters and is drawn into this minimalist and effective thriller.
Inspired by a series of murders that occurred between 2008 and 2009, when families of Hungarian Romanies were targeted by local death squads, Fliegauf, who also wrote the screenplay, starts from this point to build a story about indifference, discrimination, hatred and fear. Mari, Anna and Rio are obviously pariahs in their little town and don't feel safe even in the Romany community, where the men start to form a kind of militia in order to protect their dears from the racist attacks. Authorities do not help and a conversation between two policemen even hints, with extreme coldness, that the death squad initiative is even considered a good thing for the town.
Without judging, the film stresses the feeling of being unwelcomed. Suspicious looks, harsh words and obstinate silences that say so much is all Mari and her children receive as soon as they leave their little slum. Even in these terms, happiness is possible and little moments like taking a swim in a lake, flower picking and wandering through the woods are hints that the tension is exterior. Anyway, Mari and her children, are “good gypsies”, as the policemen say, and have nothing to fear. Or so it seems...
Although the film would have been perfect without the last few minutes, when the meaning of the title becomes obvious, Fliegauf prefers a drastic end. Maybe Just the Wind would have been more powerful with an evenmore open end, as the most important part in the story is the ominous, silent threat the Romanies feel, unwanted and rejected by the rest of the community.
Produced by Mónika Mécs, András Muhi and Ernö Mesterházy for the Hungarian production company Inforg-M&M Film , Just The Wind was co-produced by Germany (Rebekka Garrido and Michael Reuter for The Post Republic) and France (Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin and Laurent Baujard for Paprika Films). Produced with a grant from Eurimages, the film is sold by The Match Factory.