“Only the Wind”: Hungarian success at the Berlin International Film Festival

It was bound to happen that politics would make its way into an artistic endeavor. Bence Fliegauf, a young Hungarian film director, shot a film about one day in the life of a Roma family during the serial murders that took place during 2008 and 2009. I wrote so much about the murder cases that it would take too long to refer to all the articles available on this blog. If you’re interested, I suggest that you search for “Gypsy murder” and you will be able to follow the events of those days in some detail.

Fliegauf worked with an amateur Roma cast who apparently did a superb job. One of the film reviewers was so impressed that she wanted to know more about Katalin Toldi who plays the long-suffering mother, Mari. She was looking all over the Internet but not surprisingly didn’t find her name. The family consists, besides the middle-aged Mari, of her elderly father and two younger children who dream of emigrating to Canada one day.

The artistic community was impressed by the “shaky close-ups [that] create an atmosphere of fearful entrapment and [by the fact that] the characters rarely talk, remaining tight-lipped and steely-faced in the face of the omnipresent threat.”

Bence Fliegauf and cast. Katalin Toldi is to the right

Fliegauf’s film hasn’t been released yet, but the Hungarian Ministry of Justice and Administration was already busy handing out pamphlets stressing the fictional nature of the film and highlighting measures the Hungarian government has taken to support the Roma community. The usual clumsy PR work of the Orbán regime.

Seventeen films were entered at the Berlin International Film Festival and many critics considered “Only the Wind” worthy of the Golden Bear Award. As Magyar Nemzet wrote, “the leftist Berliner Zeitung outright demanded” the winning place for Fliegauf’s film. Note that for Magyar Nemzet it is important to mention the political orientation of the newspaper. Surely, they figure that if a film critic happens to like a film about such a topic he must be left-leaning.

In the end “Only the Wind” received the Silver Bear Award, which was announced in Magyar Nemzet thus: “The Roma film was rejected by the critics” (A romafilm nem kellett a kritikusoknak). And these so-called journalists aren’t ashamed of themselves.

Zoltán Balog, undersecretary in charge of Roma affairs, once again demonstrated that the officials of the Orbán government don’t know how to behave on the international stage. Perhaps the problem is a lack of self-confidence or some kind of deep inferiority complex, but they feel compelled to answer every criticism publicly. For instance, Zoltán Kovács, undersecretary in charge of communication, is upset that no Hungarian government official was invited to the panel discussion that took place at Princeton University last week because, in his opinion, as a result the discussion wasn’t balanced. But since when it is customary for government officials to discuss matters of academic interest? This time about constitutional law. Similarly, what on earth is the Hungarian government doing at a film festival? And why do Hungarian ambassadors feel compelled to answer every blessed critical article that appears in a newspaper somewhere in the world? The result is that they make laughing stocks of themselves and are becoming known as boorish clowns.

The reaction to the pamphlet, apparently written in not exactly faultless German, was total incomprehension. It turned out that neither Bence Fliegauf nor the organizers of the press conference had any inkling of Zoltán Balog’s “informational activity.” But the German 3SAT TV mentioned it on its program called Kulturzeit.

Balog’s brainstorm to hold a panel discussion on the film backfired. It was viewed as Hungarian government propaganda. Patrick Wildermann wrote a fairly long article in Tagesspiegel called “Whitewashing at the Danube” which described the Hungarian embassy affair in connection with the showing of “Just the Wind.” He called the panel discussion “a highly questionable event.” The title itself was unfortunate: “Roma in Europe and in Hungary. Is it a problem?” It turned out that the producer of the film couldn’t make it and neither the director nor any of the cast was present.

As for the pamphlet, Wildermann had a very low opinion of it. He called Balog “clueless” and the pamphlet full of relativistic references. Time and again comparisons were made to other European countries and racist violence, for example, in Germany. But such comparisons, Wildermann claims, are used only to divert attention from the situation in Hungary.

Meanwhile, in Hungary far-right circles are already calling Fliegauf a Gypsy ass licker. Fliegauf announced that he is proud of the label. After all, every normal Hungarian should be proud of the award “Only the Wind” received in Berlin.

So, as a blogger said in an article entitled “Only boorishness,” “boorish Balog managed to achieve only one thing: in the German media the topic is not Fliegauf, but Balog.” Poor Fliegauf who knew nothing about what was coming could only utter: “My God, but this is typical in today’s Hungary.”

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“In the end “Only the Wind” received the Silver Bear Award, which was announced in Magyar Nemzet thus: “The Roma film was rejected by the critics” (A romafilm nem kellett a kritikusoknak). And these so-called journalists aren’t ashamed of themselves.”
Reminds me of an old joke: a Soviet and an American athlete compete (just the two of them). The American wins and the Pravda article describes the competition this way:
The Soviet athlete came in second, while the American athlete was the the just one place from the last one.


A funny bit in the Nepszabadsag Online (nol.hu) about the flier:
“Imagine one of the Tsar’s ministries, seeing the unexpected and undesirable success of Dostoyevsky’s novel, would announce on fliers, that the number of old ladies killed by axe outside Russia is a lot higher than inside, not to mention that the gravity of this crime is negligible compared to the crimes committed by a certain Jack The Ripper who terrorizes London.”


It is dreadful in deed. When Magyar Nemzet, Magyar Hirlap and Orban keep talking about the conspiracy against Hungary, they do not realize that they are the conspirators. Orban and his whole gang are conspiring on the daily basis to expose Hungary as a laughing stock internationally.
THis whole event remind me of the 1981 Oscars, when a Hungarian animator received the Oscar for best animated short. Ferenc Rofusz did not receive permission from Hungary to travel to USA for the ceremonies. WHen his name was announced as a winner, a member of the Hungarian government who attended in Rofusz’ name walked up to receive the statue. There were a few people in the audience who knew Rofusz, and they reported the government guy, and the police got involved to get the statue back from him.
Well, Orban’s government is on the right path to fulfill the fantasy of everyone who has some nostalgic feelings toward the Kadar era. Two blog post back, someone warned us against the communists.. I hope he is following what his non-communist government is doing to interfere with everything.


I do not mean to take any credit away, but I am just curious. To make a film is not a cheap undertaking. Could anyone tell me who paid the expenses of this film?

neverending story

I have read that the cost of the film was around HUF 150 million. Of that around HUF 70 million came from Hungarian sources, including the companies Szerencsejáték, MVM, Porsche Hungaria and the Paks power station, as well as, interestingly give the current turn of events, the Ministry of National Resources and the Ministry of Public Administration and Justics . The rest was apparently financed by German and French companies.


One more thing kormos, nobody has a problem with HUngary providing founding for this project. Nobody assumed that there is a Hungarian conspiracy out to get the Romas, but this putting out flyers, this typical Hungarian Government PR policy certainly did make people form all over the world question “Why is the Hungarian Government in such a panic mode?”
kormos, did you see the movie? What is so awful in it that the government has to get involved explaining it without letting the director know? Is there any lies in the movie? Tell us . Please. Go ask Bastya elvtars.


For some reason one of my message disappeared.
@kormos, you are more connected to the government than not knowing the answer for your own question. Mr Balog’s website is in Hungarian and only one article cane be found in two other languages, English and German, the article regarding this movie. I wonder why. You could of provided the link, but here you go:
I am glad that the Hungarian Government provided some money. THat shows that the Hungarian Government is not a total Crazy Town yet, but there are some decent people there (if they are still there.) As far as the flyer goes, do you believe that anybody would of had the guts to make those flyers without requested or approved from high up? You know they would not.

Oh, the good ol’ Kormos and his innocently intelligent questions … My turul trooper friends are all trying to tell me the same thing when this comes up. “The government payed for the movie”. Yep, the Hungarian government pitched in with a measly 5 million HUF (25,000 US, about 3 months wages for Marcell Zsiga, Fidesz MP). We’ve gotta support culture. This response is so consistent that I can almost imagine that it is from some kind of memo issued by Orban’s little goebbels squad to explain the latest fuckery. This is not the first time by the way when some idiot is not satisfied with the conventional sign at the beginning of the movies and TV shows: “based on real events but the characters are fictional, etc”. Do you remember the Hungarian movie Kontroll in 2003? A surreal comedy-thriller about ticket inspectors in the Budapest metro system. A bit like Twin Peaks. Great movie! Won a truckload of awards. Anyway, Botond Aba the BKV (Budapest Public Transport) CEO gives a speech at the beginning to explain the film has nothing to do with BKV ticket controllers … right. So actually we maybe lucky here. Imagine this bozo, Zoltan Balog,… Read more »

I’m elated for the recognition the film received. As for the negative reactions of the government and pro-government media, they’re nothing short of petty, not to mention they do a disservice to themselves, as usual.

Odin's Lost Eye
Professor you wrote ** “Poor Fliegauf who knew nothing about what was coming could only utter: “My God, but this is typical in today’s Hungary.” “ ** When will the Hungarian Government learn? The Minister Zoltán Balog goes and stuffs his oar in and as a result Hungary gets well and truly slapped down by the foreign press. For God’s sake the film tells a story, just a story. The Hungarian Government steps in with a ‘howl of hate’. The story may well be very true to life. If it is then successive Hungarian Governments should be keeping their heads well down. Past governments for letting things get to the state depicted in the story and the present government for failing to correct the mistakes of the past. The Minister I am afraid ‘fell out of his tree’ by summoning a panel to discuss the matter. The judges in Berlin decide what they think the film is worth, not (thank God), a Hungarian Government minister. Professor you also report the Hungarian press stated “That the film was rejected by the critics”. Well to them I suppose only getting a ‘Silver Bear’ and an invite to show it at Cannes is… Read more »

The film’s success in Berlin ought to be seen as a success for Hungary as a country willing to look at its problems in a serious way. Basta. Instead, typically clumsy government PR messes it up, trying to spin the story in the same way that Joseph Simon or Johnny Boy does here: by saying that its neighbors have the same problems, or even worse problems of the the same character, thus Hungary’s problems ought not be aired in public.
One minor tragedy in this is the transformation of Zoltan Balogh, from a progressive pastor with real multi-cultural credentials (he is the longtime pastor to the German-speaking Reformed parish in central Budapest), to a whitewasher for this government. The proximity to power (as Orban’s “spiritual advisor”, does corrupt, it seems.


No, the German deployed in the handbills distributed is riddled with errors — second sentence, “…eine Geschichte, die die tatsaechlichen Ereignisse nicht folgt” **facepalm** Wemfall bitte, WEMfall!, I can hear my teacher bawling — die DEN tatsaechlicheN EreignisseN, DEN TATSAECHLICHEN EREIGNISSEN!!! — happy schooldays… Maybe the author meant “verfolgen”, Wenfall there, nincs probléma. But.
The reports from Berlin will surely be read with interest by the industrialists whom OV has been trying to seduce. And they will also surely be read with interest in Brussels.
Time to turn away from English now, and from German – time to use the pure and unpolluted language of our forefathers and foremothers – öngól, szép öngól.

Odin's Lost Eye

Somewhat off topic Hungary seems to have developed so much hatred for anything and everything? When I first came here the place was much happier than it is now. Ok there was the odd bit of disgruntlement. Now I sense pure raw hated, it is all around me everywhere, why? I daily read of and hear the language of hate emanating from the various ministers and their sidekicks. I do not understand what they say but I read their body language.
I see it in the shops, in the markets and on the streets, in the restaurants –the customers seem to hate what they have ordered. Everyone is wandering around with faces as long as a ‘Yard’ of dirty pump water growling at each other. Why? Where has all this hate come from?
Some months ago our good hostess wrote a piece about the language of hatred emanating from FIDESZ. Has this now been adopted by the Hungarian people (together with the associated intolerance) as the ‘norm’?


Odin, your comment, which is certainly correct in foreigners’ eyes, contrast so entirely with the comment of the contributor before (Vargoczky):
“Stay away from hate speech on Hungary – there is no anti-Semitism there only in your wishful thinking..”
Some people, and you say the group is growing, seem to have some very narrow definition of hate speech, or hate language and tolerance. Your question “Where has all this hate come from?” would be very much worth a debate.


Congratulations to Bence Fliegauf, his cast & crew!
The reactions from the gov. only serve to promote this film..haha. It shows what a bunch of amateurs they are. Thanks to them, I could hardly wait for the release of this film.
Re Odin’s “Hungary seems to have developed so much hatred for anything and everything?”
– I guess the bad influence on the people came from an unforgiving, bitter small man that hold grudges which is their beloved “ruler”


@ Kirsten: “Your question “Where has all this hate come from?” would be very much worth a debate.”
Miklos Haraszti made an interesting point recently (in the Princeton panel discussion on Hungary) that the Hungarian public is effectively being placed in front of the Hungarian goverment as (in his words) ‘a human shield’, protecting the government’s new constitutional order. This manifested itself in the ‘Peace March for Hungary’ the (surely top-down implemented) slogan of which was ‘We will not be a colony’.
That was one, very noticeable example. I’m sure that others throughout Hungarian society could be identified.


Just to complete the picture: Interesting story of an interview with german online-daily Pester Lloyd with state secretary Balog and the attempt of censorship coming from his office…


No, I did not see the movie. Yes, I intend to see it sometime in the future, when I am able to. It is very encouraging to see a relatively low budget film getting attention and a prize.


@young Mutt Damon
Thanks for your intelligent reply!

I think we should step back for a moment because there is no indication that the government hated this movie. Yes, Magyar Nemzet wrote a flippant headline, but the government did not say anything bad a bout the movie. THe jerk reaction to distribute flyers explaining that Hungary is actually heaven for gypsies is not a critique of the movie itself. I would say the government that is currently running on low self-esteem for obvious reasons took this “opportunity” to explain itself before anyone would of get the “wrong idea” about Hungary in general. Was it the right thing to do? Pf course not, because now people are left guessing, and it stole the “show” from Fliegauf. The fact that flyers were written in such poor German, does not surprise me, after all Hungary’s President cannot even write anything in proper Hungarian, and Hungary’s new Constitution was very much conceived with an iPod. Now, maybe the government should start to deliver some flyers in the European Parliament before Orban will speak again, saying that the flyers distributed in Berlin represent only a small number of Hungarians, and each country has its citizens who use bad grammars. In Hungary for example… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh

Just read in Népszabadság that it is likely that EU monies might be held back because of the too high budget deficit. It may mean the loss of half a trillion forints just this year. These guys are not joking.

Eva S. Balogh

I just received word that there are difficulties with posting comments. So, this is a test.


Eva: “likely that EU monies might be held back because of the too high budget deficit”
Nothing to worry about as this is exactly what Orban, Csurka and their good friend Bayer wanted. THis is what all the people at the Peace March marched for. Independence from the EU. I hope Bayer will be happy finally. Now all of those who marched should get together again with big signs Bayer at the helm “We told you that we do not need your piddly 1,714,000,000 euros, we want to be independent!”


@ kormos, Two blog entry before you stated your opinion about the scary communists who are all around us, and told us aboutall the nazis who became comunists. You refused to name a few, saying that they are all dead. I also told you that I more see it the other way around, communists who became right wing supporters, like Csurka, and many current government members (hence they were attendance at Csurka’s funeral).
Today the Society of Imre Nagy Society’s Budapest chapter condemned “the burial of Istvan Csurka who came to fame as the reviver of the Arrow Cross thinking, burial in the ’56 national cemetery.”
In their written communication they refused that lie, that was also pushed for at the funeral, that the 1956 revolution had any Hungarist [Hungarian Nazi] feature.
“We are bringing to the attention of the Hungarian and international public that the distinguished graves of the nazi leaders, mass murderer guards in the national pantheon violate the morality, the memory of the 1956 revolutionaries, and prevent to recall their ideas – written by Ferenc Donath President in the name of Imre Nagy Society. ”


“the distinguished graves of the nazi leaders, mass murderer guards in the national pantheon”
I wonder what they mean by this.


@ Tyrker, I think what they referring to is that there are a few people buried in this place that should not buried there as their contribution to the revolution or their principals later in their lives became questionable. Csurka falls in this category, by taking part in the revolution, but later becoming an informer of the communists, an later in life embracing nazi ideologies. By having such disgraceful people buried their takes away from the respect of the place and what it should represent.

cheshire cat
@ Odin’s Lost Eye “…Hungary seems to have developed so much hatred for anything and everything? When I first came here the place was much happier than it is now. Ok there was the odd bit of disgruntlement. Now I sense pure raw hated, it is all around me everywhere, why? Why? Where has all this hate come from?” When did you move to Hungary, may I ask? I am originally from there and when I left (before the elections in 2002) the country was different. Yes, people were quite negative, had a tendency to complain and give up easily, but this pure hatred is both new and chilling. It seems to me that it started during those elections, and has simply got out of control. When I go home, I regularly witness outbursts of such hatred it almost makes me grieve: in newspapers, on the internet, in the street, from friends, even highly educated ones. It’s like the country has polarized into two groups, and people release all their frustration onto “the other group”. Facts don’t matter much, it’s populist slogans, personal humiliation, emotional outbursts, swearing, obscenity, and it all seems somehow rehearsed and totally predictable. As if they… Read more »

cheshire cat: “Half of Hungary hates the EU already because they have started to believe that it is nothing but the playground of liberal, socialist and green party activists,”
If Orban is right about that that the EU is playground of liberal, socialist and green party activist, who are pulling the triggers, then it is time for Orban to thank to the liberal, socialist and green party activists for all the money that Hungary received for exchange of nothing. He cannot say that all the lefties are doing all the bad stuff to Hungary, but all the good is coming from the right. It is non-sense. The money that may will be cut off is just a fraction of all the money the Hungary already received and the money that the EU still will pay because it has been already approved. Of course Orban conveniently does not talk about this to his followers.


so let’s start to check the history.
A Bibó István Közéleti Társaság 2012. február 18-án rendezte évi nyilvános összejövetelét a köztársaság állapotáról.

Mutt Damon

@Cheshire cat “Facts don’t matter much, it’s populist slogans …”
It is so true. I talked recently to a retired teacher. After the obligatory Orban adoration ceremony was over I politely asked what does she think about the Orban government’s education policies and Rozsa Hoffmann. It was like a personal assault from my part. Like the word “fact” became a swearword. She had no idea what the upcoming changes will be but she was absolutely convinced that things only can get better now because the socialist destroyed everything.
It’s almost like two tribes in Hungary. The “Leftlibs” and the “Patriots”. The Hungarian Tutsis and Hutus.