Born in Budapest in 1955, Ildikó Enyedi has forged a singular, thoroughly independent career in film. Her uniquely imaginative and witty cinema, steeped in magic realism, given to flights of fancy and shifts in relationships between the quotidian and the transcendent, across parallel or intersecting planes of reality, dream and illusion, is “dedicated to liberating the imagination from the ideological constraints of – and obsession with – the [former Soviet Bloc’s] traumatic history” (Catherine Portuges). This season includes her three most celebrated features, including a digital restoration of her landmark 1989 Cannes Camera d’Or-winner, My Twentieth Century; 2017’s remarkable, Berlinale Golden Bear-awarded comeback after 18 years’ absence from feature filmmaking, On Body and Soul; and 1999’s Simon, the Magician, as concerned with the end of the 20th century – and the millennium – as My Twentieth Century was with its outset. Also included are several of Enyedi’s formative works: 1987’s experimental short feature The Mole, produced at the Balázs Béla Studio in Budapest, the Eastern Bloc’s only independent film studio; and the 1986 short Invasion, made while Enyedi was studying as the only woman enrolled in her class at the Academy of Drama and Film in Budapest; she would later teach there. These fascinating early works bristle with the same preoccupations, inventiveness and oneiric qualities as her brilliant, much more widely seen and celebrated, later work.
7:00pm ON BODY AND SOUL
Ildikó Enyedi (2017) 116 mins – R 18+
In her first feature in almost 20 years, Enyedi explores the porous realms between dream and reality, soul and body, animal and human, through an unlikely romance between the financial manager of an abattoir and the woman (the extraordinary Alexandra Borbély) sent to inspect the facility’s hygiene. At times both poetic and brutal, oneiric and fully aware to the absurdist realities of daily life – the couple’s “romance” is expressed through their shared dream of themselves as deer – Enyedi’s Berlinale Golden Bear winner is one of the most remarkable and gently unsettling films produced in the last decade.
9:15pm SIMON, THE MAGICIAN
Ildikó Enyedi (1999) 100 mins – Unclassified 15+
A Hungarian magician is called upon to assist French police with a murder investigation. A re-imagining of the religious tale of Simon Magus set in contemporary France, Enyedi’s refreshingly dreamlike film forgoes a focus on the murder mystery to examine Simon’s experience as a foreigner, his journey from Budapest to Paris, his awkward interactions with the locals, his strange magical abilities, his sense of alienation and disorientation, and his bizarre showdown with a rival magician. With Péter Andorai, Julie Delarme and Péter Halász.
Courtesy of the Hungarian National Film Archive.
7:00pm MY TWENTIETH CENTURY
Ildikó Enyedi (1989) 104 mins – Unclassified 15+
Enyedi’s Cannes Camera d’Or-winning second feature takes as its immodest topic the history of the 20th century itself, told through the story of twins (both played by Dorota Segda) born on the day Edison also invented the lightbulb. Separated at birth, their paths cross on New Year’s Eve 1900. Peppered with retro-futuristic sci-fi leanings and nods to silent cinema, in particular Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm and Renoir’s The Little Match Girl, every shot of this dizzying and visually ingenious film is “a mini-epic in itself” (Darragh O’Donoghue).
4K DCP courtesy of the Hungarian National Film Archive.
9:00pm THE MOLE
Ildikó Enyedi (1987) 70 mins – Unclassified 15+
Based on Adolfo Bioy Casares’ novel The Invention of Morel – the likely inspiration for Resnais and Robbe-Grillet’s Last Year at Marienbad – Enyedi’s black-and-white first feature is a metaphysical sci-fi fantasy which dissolves boundaries between reality and dream, subject and object, and ostensibly concerns a parachutist trying to make sense of people’s daily routines.
Followed by Invasion Ildikó Enyedi (1986) 37 mins – Unclassified 15+. In Enyedi’s banned Film Academy graduation work, a city’s inhabitants hide underground from a horde of peculiar creatures.
Digital prints courtesy of the Hungarian National Film Archive.