HIGHLIGHT / MEET THE AUDIENCE / EVENT | 28/04/2017
Hungarian writer-director Ildikó Enyedi returned to the stage of the HKIFF after 18 years with On Body and Soul, which recently won the Golden Bear for Best Film at the Berlinale. The director brought her atmospheric love story set in a slaughterhouse to Hong Kong audiences for its Asian premiere and attended the Master Class held on 20 April at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
"When we wake up every day, we try to fit in different roles. Only in dreams can we be free," Enyedi began, explaining her story of a couple dreaming the same dream every night. "I wish my two characters could have the experience of freedom. I wanted to push them out from their narrow comfort zone." Why in dreams did they become deer in the woods? "Because of the cattle and the slaughterhouse," she said.
Director Ildikó Enyedi meeting the audience
Talking about the deer actors, Enyedi revealed that their casting process was done with the assistance of a famous animal coordinator. Originally he picked a young beautiful male deer, but Enyedi preferred another amateur one which is older and quieter, with an attractive personality closer to Endre, the main protagonist. On the contrary, the female deer, much like Alexandra Borbély (who plays Mária), is a professional who has appeared in a number of films. The animal coordinator took six months to build a relationship with these deer before shooting.
"This film is about the one and only chance," the director said. Mária is a young woman who doesn't know what awaits outside her safe little cage. Endre, on the other hand, knows too well how risky and difficult it is to enter into a relationship, and how love can hurt. Yet, he has already given up something every important. "It is a huge step for the 40-year-old man; it is perhaps his last chance," Enyedi said.
Endre has a crippled left hand while Mária suffers from social anxiety. Enyedi explained that since the 1990s, European societies were divided into winners and losers. "I want to show that weakness can also be a driving force and a strength," she said. "Even though my characters are special people, all of us can relate to them. In our teenage years, we have also lived through thrill and fear as they did."
Director Ildikó Enyedi
The director was touched by the slaughterhouse workers. "These people were not intellectuals, but had a deep solidarity, showing respect and kindness to the animals. That made me remember the tribal tradition in which you hunted and killed the animals, and thanked them for the food for keeping you alive," she said. "Now we close our eyes to too many things."
The story idea first came to her in March. "My heart was filled with joy and hope. But the faces of the people, including myself, were blank," she said. The last scene was an empty forest, where the deer were gone. Sunshine entered, snow was melting, and two drops of water fell into the little pond. Spring has finally come.
The second screening of On Body and Soul will be held on 24 April at 7:15p.m. at the Grand Cinema. Enyedi will also meet the audience for a post-screening talk.
Watch the Master Class below: