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Roland Vranik • Director

Black Brush

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- Being lucky with a good team

Roland Vranik • Director

Roland’s debut feature Black Brush won the Main Prize and the Best Cinematography Prize at the Hungarian Film Week last year. After winning the Best Director Award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, Black Brush is now touring the international festivals and will be screened in Rotterdam.

You are a commercials and music videos director. You were also Béla Tarr’s assistant on Werckmeister Harmonies. How did these experiences influence you in making your first feature?
Roland Vranik: Making commercials and making feature films are two separate things for me. Commercials are a good way to practice and gain experience, whereas feature films are about your meaning, about your brain. If I try to think of who has influenced by work, I can’t think of anyone because I would have to list lots of directors, from Fritz Lang to Jim Jarmush. All the films I have seen have influenced me, there’s not a specific thing that determined my envy (??) to make feature films.

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Can you tell us how you succeeded in making Black Brush?
The story is based on real people I met when I came back from the US 15 years ago. I visited a friend who was studying theology and followed him and his friends who were working as chimneysweeps. When I decided to make my first feature film – because I think you have to decide to go for it – the first vision I had of the story was these four guys. Then I had a very creative and fruitful collaboration on the script with my cinematographer, Gergely Poharnok, who has a lot of experience in feature films. When we finished the script, I proposed it to a commercials producer I was working with and, after several attempts, we got some financing from the Hungarian Cultural Fund and the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation – about €120,000. Then I succeeded in finding another two strong producers, and an excellent line producer came on board. And we made it ! Basically, I was very lucky to work with all those people who made that film possible.

How was your film received in Hungary and abroad?
The prizes we won at the Hungarian Film Week gave the film very good exposure as it was shown to foreign festival directors, film critics and distributors. Basically, it raised interest both in Hungary and abroad. Then Magyar Film Unio stepped in and the film was invited to several festivals, such as Chicago, Vancouver and Thessaloniki. Thanks to that, we are now negotiating with a potential world sales company. In Hungary, around 25,000 people went to see the film, which is not so bad considering it’s not really a commercial film.

You lived and worked in Holland. How can directors from "small" countries like Hungary produce films that are successful on the international scene without losing their identity?
I am not worried by losing my identity since what I am interested in is not related to my social, cultural or political surroundings. It’s about fiction and something on the border between reality and un-reality. It’s like in Black Brush: I don’t want to show where the story is set. I just want to pick it up from reality and its environment and to concentrate on the characters and the story. There’s no key to being successful on the international market. Beyond any talent you may have, you have to be very lucky, be part of a very good team and also have a producer behind you who continuously pushes you in the market.

What is your next project?
I’ll be finishing the first draft of my next film in a month. Just like in Chicago or Thessaloniki, I’ll have meetings in Rotterdam with producers already interested in co-producing. I would like to do it with English actors and shoot it in a place where the story can’t be localized, maybe in Romania or Bulgaria.

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