Whistler Film Festival 2017 Interview: BUDAPEST NOIR director Eva Gardos
By Jason Whyte
Posted 12/01/17 11:47:34
"Budapest, 1936. The Hungarian prime minister returns from Germany in a coffin, his dream of making Hungary into a fascist state snuffed out. For now. Crime reporter Zsigmond Gordon has other things on his mind. A cynic who thinks he has seen it all, a tip leads him to an unusual crime scene in a seedy part of the city; a beautiful, well-dressed young woman is dead, with only a Jewish prayer book in her purse. His curiosity is aroused. Didn't he just spot her in a sexy photo in the office of the Chief of Police? But an official stonewall blocks investigation of the mystery girl's murder, provoking Gordon to solve the puzzle of her demise. Enlisting the help of Krisztina, the beautiful photographer who once broke his heart and whom he doesn't fully trust, Gordon pursues his own investigation, following a murder suspect into the city's dark underbelly. Gordon enters a world of pornographers, brothels and Communist cells leading to the highest echelons of power. The more people try to scare him away, the deeper he digs in, not knowing who to trust, or what ulterior motives are working against him and the truth. Driven by one thing, finding the girl's killer, the increasingly endangered journalist is the only one who seems to care in a world gone mad, with Hitler looming on Hungary's horizon." Director Eva Gardos on BUDAPEST NOIR which screens at the 2017 edition of the Whistler Film Festival.
Welcome to Whistler Film Festival! Tell me how you got your start in the filmmaking business!
I was a production assistant on APOCALYPSE NOW in the Philippines working and learning from Francis Coppola. I went into editing and became an award winning editor working with directors such as Barbet Schroeder, Anjelica Huston & Peter Bogdanovich! My first film AN AMERICAN RHAPSOD, starring a young Scarlett Johannsen, was based on my family's escape from Hungary during the Cold War.
I love that movie and yes, Scarlett was so young in that one! How did BUDAPEST NOIR come about for you?
I found the book which was hugely popular in Hungary, in English. I submitted it to their Film Fund and developed it there and shot it there!
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee are we talking about here and what was the biggest challenge with the movie?
I don't drink a lot of coffee just first thing in the morning! Fear and wanting to do a great job both drive me! But casting was challenging. Everyone told me that there is not a Hungarian actor who could play the lead, a kind of Humphrey Bogart. When we found him sitting in a cafe, I knew it would come together.
I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed!
The directer of photography Elemer Ragalyi is an award winning cinematographer who was the DP on American Rhapsody. Neither of us wanted to do a copy of a Film Noir of the 40s. We did a lot of visual tests, desaturation, black and white until we settled on the look. The production designer Zoltan Verebes worked closely with us. We had lots of reference photos and spent a lot of time looking for locations. It was a great team.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Whistler and where is BUDAPEST NOIR going after?
I enjoy hearing the audience reactions and questions! The movie is going to Palm Springs Festival in January.
What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?
Seek out experienced people to learn from and don't be afraid to ask lots of questions!
And finally, what is the greatest movie you have seen at a film festival?
My best film experiences are going to a festival ane seeing lots of different films. I had an amazing time in Bologna Italy this summer because they show newly restored films from all periods in the main square of town each night.
Read my review of this film and many others playing at WFF this year in my preview article by clicking HERE!
This is one of the many films playing at the 2017 Whistler Film Festival. For showtime information, tickets and for other general information on films and events, point your browser to the official website at whistlerfilmfestival.com!
Be sure to follow instant happenings of Whistler Film Festival on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a photo or two. You can also follow the festival via Instagram Stories at jason.whyte!
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com