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Thessaloniki Recap- Best of the Fest: “The Hourglass”

Thessaloniki Recap- Best of the Fest: "The Hourglass"

In my first dispatch from the 49th Thessaloniki International Film Festival for indieWIRE, I mentioned a film called, “The Hourglass,” a Serbia-Hungary-Montenegro co-production, directed by Szabolcs Tolnai. THIS IS A SPECTACULAR FILM!

One of the more fanciful scenes in Szabolcs Tolnai’s “The Hourglass”

It was a peak filmic experience for me this year, but you know me.

Based on the writings of Danilo Kiš, “The Hourglass” or “Fövenyóra” in Serbo-Croatian, is the kind of surrealist film that fans of David Lynch or Jan Švankmajer would love. The look and feel of the B/W film is gorgeous, and the story, though fractured, adds up to the fascinating journey of a displaced writer as he searches for his roots and the truth about his father who disappeared in WWII.

The Thessaloniki jury honored the film for artistic achievement at the closing ceremony. (Here are the award winners that the editors added after my second dispatch, which I filed before festival’s end. In the dispatch, I focused on the three national cinemas that stood out for me personally, across multiple sections. Gremlins attacked the accents in the story.)

Before the festival, I was already intrigued to see “The Hourglass” because I read that the DP, Gergely Pohárnok, had shot one of my very very very favorite films of all times, “Hukkle” (2002) by György Pálfi, who also directed “Taxidermia” (2006). This 30-year-old cinematographer is one to watch.

DP Gergely Pohárnok at a dinner for filmmakers in competition at Thessaloniki

By the way, “Hukkle,” (pronounced hoo-clay, not rhymes-with-chuckle, as Ken Eisen of Shadow Distribution helpfully corrected me) is must-see film and a virtually wordless mystery in which farm animals, pets, and wildlife play a part.

A scene from Hungarian “Hukkle” (2002), directed by György Pálfi

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