Kornél Mundruczó was born in Hungary in 1975. He attended the director's class at the Hungarian University for Film and Drama. As early as his short-film debut 20 "Afta - Day after Day" (2001), Mundruczó received numerous international awards, including the short-film category prize at the International Film Festival in Cottbus, the Hungarian Critics' Award, and the Arte Award for European Short Film at the Oberhausen International Film Festival. In "Afta", Kornél Mundruczó handles universal themes like growing up and the banality of everyday life for a young boy, which leads to aggression and suppressed rage. In 2002, Kornél Mundruczó directed his first feature film "Pleasant Days". The title is misleading. At the center of this dark story, which is set in the Hungarian backwaters, is the unemployed mechanic Peter. Two women play a role in his life: his sister Maria, who works in a laundrymat, and the young Maya, who has sold her baby to Maria. In this desperate environment a conflict between desire and frustration gradually poisons the relationships between the protagonists. This film also received numerous awards, including a prize at Rotterdam and in the international film festivals in Sofia and Brussels.
Questions to the director:
Your film "Shortlasting silence" is dark and morbid in style and content. How did you develop this character who looks after people who are at risk to commit suicide?
Developping the story, we started building the past of the characters which is not in the film. But it's the secret of the film: It's a love between brother and sister. One day, the mother dies and that's the point where the films starts. The double meanings in the film are quite interesting to me: Something wrong happened in the past, in the history in Hungary, and we started to talk about this situation because of the death of the mother...
I think the second level is really very well visualised. It all begins with the main character leaving his office, driving the car, arriving in these dark fairy tale forest, climbing through the trees and finally leaving this house.
Right, it seems unreal somehow. That is a dead house actually. There's no life in it which was really important for me concerning the set design. You only feel the reality in the city scenes. From then on, we're leaving reality. I like stylization because I'm from the theatre, maybe that's in my blood. I don't like films that are absolutely real because, as a matter of fact, film never is "true".
There are also some thriller elements embedded thanks to the music, the lighting and the camera.
The characters do nothing but talk to each other. But between them - it's again the double meaning - another story is going on. With the music and the camera movements, we tried to convey this double meaning. They have huge problems between them. But they're eating and talking - doing nothing, actually. And that's why I wanted to work with long shots using the steadycam and this orange-looking light, while the first part is very light with white coloured settings.
Interview: Oliver Baumgarten, Chief editor of the film magazine "SCHNITT".