White Palms Hungarian candidate
by Fabien Lemercier
The wonderful adventure continues for White Palms [+see also:
interview: Szabolcs Hajdu
film profile] (Fehér tenyér), the third feature by Szabolcs Hajdu, which has been shortlisted as the Hungarian candidate for the 2007 Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film.
This distinction comes after winning no less than six prizes at the 2006 Hungarian Film Week (including Best Director, Photography and the Gene Moskowitz Prize awarded by foreign critics) and being screened in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight (see article), at the Karlovy Vary Festival (with a special mention in the East of the West section) and Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema programme.
Hajdu, 34, originally from Debrecen (see interview in our Special Report Hungarian Blitz on the Croisette), is part of a new Hungarian wave of directors from the Simó class of the Budapest Film School.
Co-founder of the production outfit Katapult Film (see interview with Iván Angelusz), the director’s other films are Sticky Matters (2001, Best Debut Feature at the Hungarian Film Week) and Tamara (2004). For White Palms he took inspiration from the life of his younger brother Zoltán Miklós Hajdu, who played himself in the film and currently works with the Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
The film follows a Hungarian gymnast who receives tough physical training. After his career is shattered by an injury, he begins coaching a young Canadian (Kyle Shewfelt, Olympic floor champion at the Athens Olympic Games) to help him reach the top.
White Palms is a sportive tale that explores social themes such as parent-child relationships, teaching an Eastern European approach to sports to a young Westerner, and the necessity to find one’s own values to escape the pressures of trainers and family.
Sold internationally by France’s Onoma Production, White Palms is proving a hit amongst buyers in Asian countries in particular.
Sales negotiations are almost complete with French distributor Epicentre, who are expected to release the film in the first quarter of 2007, while negotiations with Italy, Germany and Canada are also well underway.
(Translated from French)
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