Start up the music! It’s Balaton Method
by Fabien Lemercier
- The first Hungarian film to be supported by a crowdfunding campaign, Bálint Szimler’s documentary follows an adventure on the big screen that is simply astonishing, in more ways than one
Released yesterday in theatres in Budapest, the musical documentary Balaton Method [+see also:
film profile] by Bálint Szimler (who directed the short Here I Am, a film that has achieved cult status in Hungary, having been unveiled in competition at Cannes in 2010 on the Cinéfondation programme and nominated the same year for the European Film Award in its category) is generally thought of as a real phenomenon in the Hungarian film production landscape.
Indeed, the movie is the first one made in the country to have used a crowdfunding campaign via the Indiegogo platform, which in spring 2014 enabled it to raise 10% of its final budget and get additional sponsors on board. The success of this initiative convinced the filmmaker not to request any public funding, so that it could remain 100% independent at the production stage, which wrapped after seven months and cost a total of €100,000 (a sum that may seem rather modest in other countries, but which represents a kind of unprecedented minor miracle in the world of Hungarian documentary production).
It must be said that Balaton Method is not just any documentary, as it is the sequel to Kodály Method, a series of very popular music videos created in 2011 by Bálint Szimler and Marcell Rév (a young DoP who is making quite a name for himself, with recent titles Land of Storms [+see also:
interview: Adam Csaszi
film profile] by Ádám Császi and White God [+see also:
interview: Kornél Mundruczó
film profile] by Kornel Mundruczó to his credit), who also handled the cinematography and co-wrote Balaton Method with the director. The style of the videos hinged on very long takes, with the music recorded live and the artists playing their pieces with extra musicians, choirs and so on... This is a formula that Balaton Method has taken up once again with 17 groups (ranging from the most famous performers to talented newcomers), who are joined by hundreds of other musicians, and it is all set within the highly suggestive surroundings of the shores of Lake Balaton (the biggest lake in Central Europe).
Produced by Gábor Osváth (Boddah), Gábor Kovács (Filmpartners) and Árpád Szirmai (VisionTeam), this documentary, which is much more than a mere musical film, will set off to several Hungarian towns and cities in April, thanks to specific support from the Hungarian National Film Fund.
(Translated from French)