Alexa Bakony • Director of Colors of Tobi
“I wanted to encourage communication, to find what unites us and not what tears us apart”
- The Hungarian director talks about her film centred on a transgender teen and their family
Colors of Tobi [+see also:
interview: Alexa Bakony
film profile] is a documentary about a transgender teen searching for their own identity and their family’s journey of acceptance and understanding for their child. Its director Alexa Bakony is an up-and-coming Hungarian documentarian with three documentaries under her belt. Colors of Tobi is her latest work, and premiered earlier this year at BFI Flare. We sat to talk to her at ZagrebDox where Colors of Tobi was part of the regional competition.
Cineuropa: How did the idea to tell Tobi’s story occur to you? Did you know Tobi and their family from before?
Alexa Bakony: I did not know them before but they were living quite close to my grandmother’s village, and that gave me a push to start.
It is not just Tobi’s journey, but also quite a journey for their mother and father. Can you elaborate on that?
The parents were so involved in this story that I wanted to strongly include them in the film, to get a full picture of the life of this family.
Was it hard to persuade them to let you film them in and around their home?
No, they really wanted to share their story! I was happy that they let me do that, because they understood my intentions and my way of filmmaking and how it would match their story. We had good chemistry, luckily.
The setting for the action is a small village in Hungary. Knowing the political situation in the country for the last decade, one might expect Tobi to get more of a backlash from their peers in this small environment, but we never see that in the documentary…
It simply never happened in their village.
How long did you film Tobi and their parents?
We filmed them for more than one year and a half.
How and why did you decide to use Tobi’s haircut and changing hair colour as a metaphor?
Because it was so metaphoric of how Tobi is in search of their identity. I never see them with the same hair ever twice — not just in the film, but also in real life!
Was the non-linear structure your decision from the beginning or did it come at a later stage of the production?
It came later, and it was necessary in order to establish and follow the order in which information is revealed to the audience.
What are you hoping to achieve with this film in the framework of Hungarian society?
I am hoping to encourage communication. To find what unites us and not what tears us apart. I hope for more understanding in this divided country.
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