Ceau, Cinema! Festival celebrates Hungarian director Judit Elek in Bucharest and Timisoara

May 19, 2024 | Episode 11

Ceau, Cinema! Festival celebrates Hungarian director Judit Elek through a focus of three films organized by the Pelicula Culturala Association in partnership with the Liszt Institute – Hungarian Cultural Centre in Bucharest and the Hungarian Film Archive.

These are “The Lady of Constantinople” (1969), “Maybe Tomorrow” (1980) and “Mary’s Day” (1984), three of the filmmakers’ most famous films, presented at Cannes or Locarno festivals and now screened in restored versions.

The retrospective will take place first at the Eforie Cinematheque in Bucharest, between June 4-6, and then in Timisoara, at Victoria Cinema, during the 11th edition of Ceau, Cinema! (July 17-21), when Judit Elek will also receive the honorary trophy of the festival.

Tickets for the screenings in Bucharest are available on the Ceau, Cinema! website.

Born in 1937, Judit Elek is one of the most intransigent directors of European cinema. With a career spanning six decades, she has made both fiction and documentary films that reflect Hungarian history, unpolished realities of her country and personal stories.

In “The Lady of Constantinople” (“Sziget a szárazföldön”), her debut, an elderly woman wants to swap her two-room apartment for a smaller one, but the storm of interested people shakes up her solitary life with encounters that connect her to strangers only for a moment. The film is a sensitive portrait of loneliness and human relationships presented through unusual everyday scenes and delicate grotesque humor. “The Lady of Constantinople” had its world premiere in 1969 out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film was shown again in 2023 in a restored version in the Cannes Classics section.

In the disturbing “Maybe Tomorrow” (“Majd holnap”), a man and a woman are in love, only each is trapped in an unhappy marriage with someone else. Beyond depicting an intimate relationship, the film is also a portrait of the urban middle class and the rural poor in communist Hungary. The film was part of the Locarno Festival competition in 1980, where it received the FIPRESCI critics’ award.

With “Mary’s Day” (“Mária-nap”), Judit Elek returned to Cannes in 1984. Based on the diary of Júlia Szendrey, widow of poet Petőfi Sándor, the film follows a day in 1886 when passions past and present emerge at a family reunion, while the woman is dying of a relentless illness.

The poster for the focus was made by the artist Andreea Dumuta from Timisoara.

The promotion partner of the retrospective is F-Sides, the first Romanian cineclub dedicated exclusively to films made by women.

Judit Elek was celebrated by retrospectives at the Rotterdam Festival in 2023 and at the French Cinematheque in Paris in 2024.

Judit Elek’s focus continues a partnership between Ceau, Cinema! Festival from Timişoara and the Liszt Institute – Hungarian Cultural Centre in Bucharest, a project that aims to present to the Romanian public classical films of great Hungarian filmmakers, in versions restored by the Hungarian Film Archive. In 2022 and 2023, Miklós Jancsó and István Szabó were honored through retrospectives of three titles each.

Ceau, Cinema! is a festival dedicated to European film, organized by the Pelicula Culturala Association.

Co-organizer of the retrospective: Liszt Institute – Hungarian Cultural Center in Bucharest.

The project is part of the national cultural program “Timișoara – European Capital of Culture in 2023” and is funded by the Legacy Timișoara 2023 program, carried out by the Project Center of Timișoara, with amounts allocated from the state budget, through the budget of the Ministry of Culture.

Partners: Hungarian Film Archive, Eforie Cinematheque in Bucharest, Victoria Cinema in Timisoara, F-Sides Cineclub.

Sponsors: Groupama Asigurari, Vitas Romania.

Media partener: Gen, revistă.