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"I still see people queuing to see arthouse films"

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Virág Zomborácz • Director


- Cineuropa met up with Virág Zomborácz, the director of Afterlife, the winner of the Bergamo Film Meeting

Virág Zomborácz  • Director

Aged 30, with a degree in screenwriting and drama from the University of Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest, Virág Zomborácz made her feature-film directorial debut with Afterlife [+see also:
film review
making of
interview: Virág Zomborácz
film profile
, in competition at the Bergamo Film Meeting. The screenplay for Afterlife won the MEDIA European Talent Prize at Cannes in 2011. The film was released in Hungary in September, and has caught the interest of an American buyer.

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Cineuropa: Did you have any trouble finding funding?
Virág Zomborácz: In the end, the film received funding from the Hungarian National Film Fund, which was closed for a couple of years before reopening again.

Your film highlights the balance of power between parents and their children. How did you approach this subject?
I was keen on having an ensemble cast, on following multiple storylines at the same time. This film was based on the screenplay I wrote for my degree, and of course, all young filmmakers try to put a bit of everything into their first project. I thought each and every character was interesting, from the little girl to the overbearing aunt, the depressive mother and the father, and I wanted to show the process of control for each member of the family.

Do you think there’s an essentially female perspective in cinema?
I’ve thought about it a lot, and essentially there are boundaries that restrict women. I read American actress and author Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, a social critique of a predominantly chauvinistic world, in which she talks about how hard it was for her to achieve success. She writes that sometimes men do not experience things in the same way as women. Biologically we’re not all that different from men, but culturally we have different experiences to relate to, some of which only apply to women. I think I would like us all to take greater heed of this. Hungary was a socialist country in which there was total gender equality; women worked just like men. Indeed, there are a number of prominent female directors who paved the way to some extent for us young directors. But in other fields, such as advertising and television, things are more difficult for women now. I get journalists asking me: “How has such a young girl managed to put together and direct a film?” That’s not something they would ever ask a man.

You’re an author, you’ve worked in advertising, and you’re a screenwriter for HBO Hungary. In your opinion, what does the future hold for the media, starting with cinema?
I don’t think you can win against illegal downloading; it’s happening, and that’s a fact. Customs have changed and cinemas are no longer the main place people go to watch films. Distribution needs to be adapted to fit in with new habits and customs. Having said this, I think that cinemas are still cultural meeting points. In Hungary, I’ve seen people queuing to see arthouse films at the cinema with my own eyes. This is a good sign: people still want the experience of going to the cinema. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who watch films on their tablets, also because there are small towns in Hungary where there are no cinemas. Travelling cinemas or something similar should be set up.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m writing a very personal film about a teenager who travels around, supporting herself by working as a maid in hotels, where different people and cultures meet. She learns what it means to become a woman and leave her childhood behind. The film will be called Tourist

(Translated from Italian)

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