Bela Tarr (Pécs, Hungary, 1955). One of the most important European directors of recent decades, a filmmaker of space and time, and of political cinema produced without the services of political cinema, flowed in the booklet, which like few others charted the turbulent Europe in which we live. His work is honest and deceives no one: generous shots, monologues, the longest scenes, and slow cinema that influenced Gus Van Sant, Tsai Ming-liang, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, among others.
Tarr is in Barcelona these days, where he presented in a room yesterday Film Library of Catalonia The first of the shows that make up the cycle dedicated to the influential director Werkmeiste harmoniesr (2001), the film that prompted Van Sant to produce Jerry. Tarr will also be in the same room Turin horse (Thursday 11, 7.30 p.m.) The 2011 film with which he bid farewell to the feature film industry, and at Zumzig Cinema there were two more sessions, the interview with Family nest y sentence January 10 and 13, both sessions at 7:00 p.m. The Hungarian director's Barcelona tour, coordinated by Sarajevo Film Factory student Manel Raja, will include two master classes at the ECIB School and a meeting with screenwriters at the Catalan Film Academy's Screenplay Residency. Seven films by the director are available on the Filmin platform.
Minority filmmaker? Undoubtedly, but it is necessary to understand in what directions modern cinema has taken. “I started out at 22, with a very particular sensibility, angry at the world, that was my motivation,” Tarr tells us. “The answers you find when you make a movie are no longer useful for the next movie, and that's how you evolve.” For someone who defines film as addressing place and time rather than telling a story, length doesn't matter.
Today we may be accustomed to very long films, which are mostly shown at festivals and platforms, but in 1994, when he shot Sátántangó, which lasted more than seven hours, it was a huge challenge: “I never thought about the length of films.” I do it. We're just filming, and the audience is so smart you have to deal with it like an adult. It's a moral question.” Satantango, one of his most influential works, is being celebrated. “It will soon be the 30th anniversary of its premiere at the Berlinale, where it was a remarkable event,” the director recalls. People need different languages. “It was clearly a risk, and it could have happened without anyone wanting to see it.”
Tarr is not bothered by the influence he has had on other directors, quite the opposite. “Van Sant, Weerasethakul, directors from different communities, cultures, religions… But there's a connection in the language we use and we end up making friends. And also with the Icelandic director of Lamb, Waldemar Johansson, or the Chinese director Hu Jintao. Well, 'Phil' “Sitting Still,” who was one of my students. They took aspects of their vision from my films and transferred them into their world.”
In the same context, he talks about the last batch of Hungarian directors. Laszlo Nemes, director of Son of Saul, was his assistant on The London Man. I ask him what he thinks about cinema: “He was my assistant. He is my friend. I can only say that he is my friend.” The same goes for Cornel Mundruczow, the composer of Jupiter Moon, a film that won the Sitges Prize in 2017: “I worked with him as a producer – on Joanna, from 2005 – he is very talented.” Tarr is not shy about answering. It's quite simple: if he worked with them, it was because he thought they were very good.
In his latest short films and feature films, he has depicted the contradictions of the new Europe. The extreme long shot of a group of people queuing at a place to eat free food, his contribution to Visions of Europe (2004), is his way of expressing “the suitcase we carry from our entrance to the European Union”. “I'm not judgmental,” the director continues. “I'm not one to say who's responsible. We made the world this way. The social or climate problems we face are because of the civilization we created.”
“The stories are always the same, old stories repeating themselves. What matters is how we tell them,” concludes the articulate director of The Turin Horse, an intense meditation on the end of our civilization.
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