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An Interview with Hungarian Film Director, Krisztina Goda

by Brigitta Bokor

November 5, 2009 will mark the opening night of the 9th Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles. The audience at the Laemmle's Monica 4-plex in Santa Monica has the honor to watch the Hungarian Oscar-entry, "Chameleon" by Krisztina Goda. The film is also in competition for the 67th Golden Globe Awards. This is an interview with the director of the film.

1) What is your directorial vision?

I don't think I have one; I would rather skip this question.

2) Where do you draw inspiration from? What is your main interest as a director?


I can draw inspiration from anywhere; a news article, a good book, a theater performance, or even a conversation with a friend can inspire one. If you have inspiration, it makes your work easier, but in this field you cannot just sit around and wait to get inspired. You have to do your work even when you don't feel like it at all.


3) As a young Hungarian director, how do you view the opportunities Hungarian film provides? Do you feel a significant difference compared to the film industries of other European countries?


The fundamental problem is that film will never become a profitable business in Hungary. In a country with 10 million inhabitants even the really successful movies will fail to bring back the money spent on their production, marketing, and distribution. There are no investors, the national support and that of the television is scarce, and so Hungarian filmmakers must get used to low-budget productions. But this does not necessarily hinder the creation of good movies. Good ideas and talent help when funding is limited. It would be interesting, though, to examine how that limited government funding is distributed. There is a strong counter selection in process; it's still a common perception that a film does not have to be popular when, in fact, a film without an audience is just a piece of celluloid.


4) Following your studies in Hungary, you pursued your education in the UK and in the US. What have you received from this experience, particularly the latter one? How did the "American experience", the time spent at UCLA, and the closeness of Hollywood shape you?


I really liked attending the British college: it's a prestigious school and it's hard to get in. The years spent there gave me strength and confidence. Studying screenwriting at UCLA was one of the hardest things I have ever done. After the bustling film scene in London I found myself having to sit in front of my computer working for 6-8 hours a day without any excuses to do something else. It was a good school in terms of learning self-discipline and indeed it gave me a lot professionally, too. It was at UCLA that I realized that, though competency and skills are very much needed to start out with, both dramaturgy and screenwriting are things you can teach and learn. Other than the celebrities occasionally spotted at clubs, which was not that exciting for me, Hollywood was not any closer in Los Angeles than in Hungary. What meant more was the intellectuality of UCLA - a community where everyone is different, yet similar in their talents and ambitions. It was inspiring attending UCLA.


5) Your new movie, Chameleon, is this year's Hungarian entry for the Academy Awards and it is also in competition for the Golden Globe. What hopes and expectations do you have regarding the competitions and the future of the film? What do you think the Hungarian film marketing should do to contribute to the success of the film in addition to the given values of the movie itself?


So far, the film received good reviews in the professional media like Variety, Screen International, and The Hollywood Reporter. It was also popular at official screenings, which is encouraging. Nevertheless, it is hard to predict what will come next and what the results will be. There are many exceptional films participating this year and it is an honor for me simply just to have Chameleon in the competition. The marketing of the film is dealt with by the distributor, HungariCom, and there is little left for me to do with it.


6) What is your opinion concerning female directors in Hungary and in the world?


I don't believe in the concept of "female directors". There are both female and male directors but it doesn't necessarily show on their films. We all have to face similar challenges. It is perhaps only child bearing that gives bigger challenges to women. The issue of the situation of directors in Hungary is one that is often written about and there are always more complaints than satisfaction regarding this topic. We must admit, however, that a generation of young and talented filmmakers is on the rise, along with their audiences. This could become the foundation of what needs to be done for Hungary to re-enter the international film arena.



7) Based on your experience, how do you think the Korda Studio could move forward the Hungarian film production? What extras could such a large studio provide during a shooting?

Stepping into the state of the art and sophisticated studio makes you forget that you are in Hungary. Due to its size and the equipments they work with it is capable of offering professional working conditions for big productions from abroad and thus provides work opportunities for the domestic film industry.

Brigitta Bokor

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