Dir: Marta Meszaros. Hungary. 1999. 115mins.
Prod co: Dialogue Studios. Supported by: Eurimages, Mafilm, Duna TV. Int'l sales: Dialogue Studios. Prods: Csaba Bereczki, Karoly Makk. DoP: Nykia Jancso. Ed: Grzesuik Cezary. Main cast: Jan Nowicki, Barbara Hegyi, Kitty Keri, Lukas Nowiczki, Cleo Ladanyi, Lili Monori.
Critics and cinephiles have long-awaited the last installment in Marta Meszaros' internationally acclaimed diary series. The 68-year-old Hungarian director completes her autobiographical series by returning to the childhood she spent in Kirghizia on the Soviet-Chinese border. Set against the backdrop of this mountainous and little known former Soviet republic, the film is visually stunning.
Based on recently declassified documents, the film tells the true story of Meszaros as she returns to investigate the fate of her father Laszlo Meszaros, a sculptor who was executed during the 1937-38 Stalinist purges. Meszaros tells the story through the eyes of her alter ego Vilma, a little girl who is taken from her native Budapest by her parents to live in Kirghizia. In the early 1930s they were among many idealistic left-wing intellectuals from Europe who went to the Soviet Union to help build the new communist utopia but never returned. Vilma ends up in an orphanage after the death of both parents and her harrowing escape and continuing adventures are documented in her famous diary trilogy.
The international popularity of her previous films as well as Meszaros' international reputation ensures this moving tale a wide art-house and festival distribution.