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A HUNGARIAN FAIRY TALE

Hungary, 1987 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Gyula Gazdag

Hungarian fairy tales always begin, "It was and it wasn't", and the spirit of the fairy tale is never far away in Gyula Gazdag's allegorical story of a young boy in search of his father Young Andris is being brought up solely by his mother, Maria On Andris' third birthday, Maria is summoned to the child custody department by Orban, an officious clerk who reminds her of the requirements of a curious blip in the Hungarian law; that when a father's name is unknown, an imaginary one must be invented to go on the birth certificate Maria convinces Orban to allow his name to be listed Later when she is killed in a freak accident leaving Andris to fend for himself, he sets out to find his father, not knowing the name on the certificate is fictitious At the same time, Orban the clerk rebels against a life of official lies and runs amok, burning the files he has complied over years of work and quits his job An irreversible chain of events is now set in motion involving Andris, Orban and a disillusioned nurse, that will hang them together in an effort to escape the grim, unsympathetic realities of life and its senseless bureaucracies.

Along the way, Gazdag juggles the elements of poetic fantasy and everyday realism with a deft touch and a whimsical sense of humour, never allowing one element to eclipse the other While his references may be planted firmly on home ground, there's no doubt as to the universality of his themes.

A genuine original, often as elusive as it is magical.

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