Interview: Bence Fliegauf, director of the LUX Prize finalist "Csak a szél"
At the 69th Venice International Film Festival, Cineuropa interviewed Csak a szél's director Bence Fliegauf. Csak a szél tells the story of four members of a gypsy family who live on an isolated farm in Hungary: Anna, a young teenager who goes to school; her 11-year-old brother Rio who has created a hiding place in an abandoned barn; their mother Mari who works as a cleaner in the neighbouring village; and their grandfather Tomi who has been weakened by a stroke. Watch the video!
Interview with Hungarian director Bence Fliegauf, author of Just the wind
A rural thriller set against a backdrop of racism in which a Gypsy family from the great plains is pursued by killers. Jury Grand Prix at the Berlinale and 2012 LUX Prize finalist.
How does it feel being a finalist for the Lux Prize?
This is my first time in Venice. I’m very amazed by this Italian region. The LUX Prize means a lot to me. This is my fifth feature film and I’ve been to many festivals over the last 12 years, so I know the industry and I know people. I’m very honoured if I have an award from the industry, but the big honour is some other organization giving me something. I won a prize in Berlin from Amnesty International and I was very happy, as it means that my movies signify something beyond art, and that’s very important. That’s the point for the LUX Prize for me as well. It’s such a strange opportunity for me to meet with these people who take cultural decisions in the European Parliament.
What inspired your film?
I worked in Germany, I just read the newspaper as a foreigner and I was really shocked about what was going on in my country. I had nightmares, I just woke up in the middle of the night and I saw the light of the shotguns in a dark room and I heard screaming. That happened three of four times. For me, a nightmare is always a very good sign to choose a project. Choosing the project is the most important part of the filmmaking. If you choose the project, then you have to live with it for minimum four years, which is a lot. So I came back from Germany to Hungary with my family, and I started to travel around the country to get to know the gypsies.
How did you work with your actors?
I wanted to make this film with more professional actors at the beginning, because I knew some Hungarian Roma actors and actresses, but in the end we didn’t find anyone. It’s strange, if you’re working with professional actors who are not Roma and you have to choose someone to play a character who is 30 years old and handsome, then you could choose from 50 persons. But in this case there were two Roma actors like that and I was not satisfied with them, so we had to work with amateurs, which I did with pleasure. Basically, the only film I’ve made with actors was Womb. So for me this is more natural, I was confident with this. Then we went to the country, and it went on for two years. I met with beautiful people everywhere in Hungary. They taught me a lot. I understood the logic of races, judgmental thinking, and xenophobia. There were some teachers in a school. I said, “Can we visit your school to meet Roma?” and they asked, “Why?” I said: “Because I want to make a film.” And they answered: “No, you shouldn’t, this is not the situation. You have to make a film about those white Hungarian boys who are suffering because of the Roma”. I met thousands of people, we invited them to Budapest, we just had conversations, and we held rehearsals. In the end, I chose the right ones. These people never signed any contract. They don’t know what a contract means. There were countless people who simply did not come to Budapest because of some reason, so we weren’t able to work with them. There were some that came once but then not anymore. After months of this rehearsal process, we learned each other’s way of thinking and there was chemistry between us. It really was team work.