Saturday, March 5, 2005

9:00 am - Camelot Theatres Doors Open
(Complimentary Coffee & Pastries)
9:20 am - Introduction of the Film
9:30 am - Screening begins
Q&A Session follows the Screening

Free to DFS 2005 Members who present current Membership Card
Guests & Non-Members pay $15.00 per person at the door

A FilmArt production. Produced by Jeno Habermann. Directed, written by Jozsef Pacskovszky. 

A magical-realist criss-crosser, set in contempo Budapest and beguilingly shot in vibrant, Almodovarian hues, Jozsef Pacskovszky's "The Colour of Happiness" takes Hungarian cinema out of its grungy, inward-looking ghetto and into the mainstream of accessible European filmmaking. Lively quilt of various types looking for love or fulfillment firmly establishes 41-year-old writer-director Pacskovszky after a decade of promising work (including "The Wondrous Voyage of Kornel Esti," 1995), and deserves a platform at fests unencumbered by traditional perceptions of Magyar cinema. Euro webs should also smile on "Happiness." 
Opening sets up the pic's unreal, slightly dreamlike tone as a series of visual tropes, ending in a glitzy cabaret, leads the viewer to Ditta (Anna Gyorgyi), plain-Jane wife of Laurent (French thesp Erik Desfosses, dubbed), who works at the local French Institute. Their marriage has hit the sexual shallows but, as Ditta sends him off to work, it starts snowing outside -- unheard of in May -- and there's a hint of something special in the air. 

Almost immediately the script starts to introduce and set up connections among a swath of other characters. There's Ildi (Ildiko Bacsa), who works at an art gallery and has just discovered she has cancer; divorced lawyer Mate (Zoltan Ratoti), who's unsure about committing to his young lover, Hanna (Terez Rudolf), who's also seeing Laurent; Bogo, a Ghanaian bus driver (Todd Williams), who loves Budapest so much he gives his passengers a running commentary on the city; Mate's wayward daughter, Fanni (Livia Habermann), who meets her former b.f., Akos (Otto Viczian), and also tries to sexually blackmail Laurent over his friendship with Hanna; and so on. 

It's takes a while to work out the exact relationships among all these characters, plus several more, as their stories are woven into the picture, but the movie as a whole has a planned, nonrandom feel in its direction, and in Francisco Gozon's precision, saturated lensing. 

There's always been a fairytale element in Pacskovszky's work, and it's strongest here in Ditta's story, as she decides to add spice to her marriage, and in sidebar stories like Ildi kissing a stranger (who turns out to be Laurent's assistant, and not exactly Ildi's type) in a well-appointed cafe. Bogo's bus unites all the characters in a joyful, sunny finale. 

Aficionados of gritty, downbeat Hungarian cinema will find little here to keep the country's filmmaking in its traditional box. More open-minded auds will respond to the movie's thoroughly cinematic style and blend of visuals, music and almost Gallic-Latin focus on the characters' emotional maps. From the large cast, Gyorgyi, Ratoti and Williams stand out as the wife, lawyer and bus driver amid the easy ensemble playing. 

Amazingly, considering its complexity and technical sheen, pic was shot in only 22 days, with considerable input in the script by the cast. 

Camera (color), Francisco Gozon; editor, Gabriella Koncz; music, Ando Drom, Sonoton; art director /costume designer, Mara Bozoki; sound (Dolby), Robert Juhasz; choreography, Imre Andrasi; assistant director, Miklos Molnar. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 3, 2003.

LANGUAGE:  Hungarian, with English Sub-Titles.
Running time:  87 MINUTES