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A PRICELESS DAY

Hungary, 1979 (MIFF 1981, New Directors)

Director: Peter Gothar

Iren Zemann is a 30 -year-old kindergarten teacher. Her senior post, her shared apartment, and a lover, a man with a family — these are the boundaries within which her life is following its course. Her daily routine is destroyed by the sudden death of her co-tenant, an old lady named Etelka. Iren becomes the sole tenant of the apartment and she believes this might be the basis on which she can have her problems straightened out and put her private life on the rails...

Peter Gothar's assured and mature first feature deservedly won the Opera Prima prize at Venice last year. There is a robust energy at work in this film, a sign of real, raw talent and a refreshing change from the usual range of Hungarian cinema It might, in fact, be part of a movement which will strengthen that country's strong realist dramatic tradition. Not that the film has had an easy road into the west. Prior to its Venice showing, critical reaction had been lukewarm ("lacks point of view and can not qu ite decide whether to be a comedy, satire or a more probing look at moral ambiguity" — Gene Moskowitz Variety) but it has steadily found its place with those who appreciate tight, intense and ultimately moving drama directed and acted with skill, precision, bite and enough wit to keep an audience on a constant edge of amusement.

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