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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Hungary / Slovakia

Two outsiders bond in the Hungarian-Slovak film Wild Roots

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- Up-and-coming young Hungarian director Hajni Kis is readying her feature-length debut, which won an award at the recent KVIFF Eastern Promises Industry Days

Two outsiders bond in the Hungarian-Slovak film Wild Roots
Wild Roots by Hajni Kis

Slovakian production outfit MPhilms has teamed up with established Hungarian outfit Proton Cinema on Wild Roots, the feature-length debut by a Hungarian director from the young generation, Hajni Kis. Proton Cinema and MPhilms have a history of successful previous collaborations, Power being the most recent one (see the news). Júlia Berkes and Balázs Zachar, of Proton Cinema, presented the project along with director Hajni Kis in the industry strand of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Eastern Promises. The low-budget film is being made as part of the Incubator programme of the Hungarian National Film Fund.

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Loosely inspired by the director’s life, the story follows ex-con Tibor, who works as a bouncer and whose explosive nature tends to get him into conflicts. Twelve-year-old wild child Niki lives with her grandparents and is quite a handful for them. When Niki finds out about Tibor, her father, being released from prison, she decides to seek him out, even though she has been advised against it.

“The film is intended primarily for those who have ever felt anger towards their parents or their close family in their lives, and who would like to forgive, get closer, or find peace in conflicts that so often seem quite useless. I would like to draw the viewer's attention to the interconnectedness of the two characters, who unexpectedly reunite, and at the same time, I would like the audience to feel the burden that the girl carries on her shoulders,” reveals Kis in the director’s notes.

Non-professional actors have been cast in the leading roles. The producers said that they are in the early stages of post-production planning, aiming to complete it by the end of August. Balázs Zachar also noted that they are nearing a deal with a potential sales agent. Despite the current state of play, they are still open to receiving additional finances that could help them finish the film. Wild Roots won the Works in Progress TRT Award (see the news) at the KVIFF Eastern Promises Industry Days. The jury called it “visually compelling”, manifesting a “distinct directing style and promising talent”. The release is tentatively set for February 2021.

Wild Roots is being produced by Proton Cinema and co-produced by Slovak outfit MPhilms. The Hungarian Film Fund, Slovak Audiovisual Fund and Slovak minority culture fund Kult Minor supported the film. The movie’s budget is €370,000.

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