Train to Adulthood awarded at DOK Leipzig
by Fabien Lemercier
- Produced by Eclipse Film, the documentary by Hungarian filmmaker Klára Trencsényi has won the Next Masters section of the German festival
“An acutely observed documentary that sets an anachronistic utopian project against the harsh realities of life faced by two families in present-day Hungary, and a beautifully photographed and edited film.” This is how the jury justified its decision to crown Klára Trencsényi's Train to Adulthood [+see also:
film profile] (Reményvasút) as the winner of the Next Masters section at the 58th DOK Leipzig Festival.
Train to Adulthood centres on the “children’s train” built in 1948 in communist Hungary, whose operation ever since then has been entrusted to teenagers in the context of a “pioneer” experiment; these adolescents can be engine drivers, conductors, pointsmen or ticket sellers. This is indeed the case for twins Viktor and Karmen, and their friend Gergo. But what could easily have been an exercise in sugary nostalgia unfolds as a nuanced and sensitive coming-of-age drama. Because the three of them must not only shoulder responsibilities at the railway, but also confront the tough reality of capitalism. The twins’ single mother works hard but earns hardly enough to buy food, and the family are losing the roof over their heads. As for Gergo, he lives with his grandparents because his parents are forced to work abroad, and he must decide whether this will be his future, too.
With Train to Adulthood, Klára Trencsényi shows a world in which a relic from the past is the only thing that offers a modicum of security on the road to the future, while all the institutions that are supposed to do this are absent.
(Translated from French)