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Movie Reviews : New Hungarian Cinema Sampling Set At Ucla

April 01, 1985|SHEILA BENSON | Times Film Critic

Audiences will have a chance to see a strong and varied program of the new Hungarian cinema at 7:30 p.m. today and Tuesday, during a free program at UCLA's Melnitz Hall.

Tonight's films are "The Right to Hope" and "Mascot." Tuesday's are "Flowers of Reverie" and "The Package Tour."

The four films range from a haunting drama of young adolescents damaged by divorce ("Mascot") to a gripping, emotion-packed documentary of a trip back to Auschwitz 40 years later by a group of Hungarian survivors of that camp ("The Package Tour").

One of the strongest films in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, the daring and splendidly acted "Flowers of Reverie," which won the festival's Silver Bear--the special jury prize--will also play, in addition to one film unpreviewed, "The Right to Hope."

Janos Rozsa, director of tonight's "Mascot," has a special rapport with young people. His earlier film, "Sunday Daughters" (1979), about troubled adolescent girls in a state-run institution, was a revelation, both in the exceptional frankness of its story and for its fine naturalistic performances. In the cast was a strong, sensitive young actress, Julianna Nyako. Three years later, director and actress worked together again in "Mascot," in which Nyako played a 16-year-old determined that her parents' divorce and separate custody arrangements for her and her 11-year-old brother will not split them up. "Mascot" is notable for its portrait of contemporary social problems in Hungary, for Rozsa's firm, compassionate direction and for Nyako's haunting central performance.

(Both Janos Rozsa and Szolt Kezdi-Kovacs, director of "The Right to Hope" and founder of Hungary's Bela Balaz Studio, key training ground for Hungarian directors of the 1960s, will be present at tonight's screening of their films.)

Western audiences may be surprised at the daring in Laszlo Lugossy's "Flowers of Reverie"--the story of a sane man thrown into an asylum for political reasons--but the trick in Hungary apparently is to hide incisive social comment within a period frame. With a notable performance by Gyorgy Cserhalmi in the central role, "Flowers" is romantic, beautiful, profoundly sad and absolutely recommended.

The second of Tuesday night's films is Gyula Gazdag's "The Package Tour," a documentary of Auschwitz/Birkenau survivors. Made by one of the youngest and most challenging of Hungary's new group of film makers (Gazdag is 38), this is one of the many recent Hungarian films to deal directly with the war period and with the doubts and questions of guilt that still linger.

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