In the footsteps of Bela Tarr

Hungarian filmmaker Benedek Fliegauf is only 30 and with his second film, the award-winning «Dealer» which is already showing at local cinemas, he thanks people like Bela Tarr, David Lynch, Bret Easton Ellis and Portishead in the credits. Clearly, Fliegauf’s work has many and varied references, and his style borrows elements from all the artists who have influenced him. «Dealer» records a day in the life of a drug dealer; the young filmmaker looks into a sick situation, which seems to go further than the world of drugs. Brimming with self-confidence, Fliegauf, who was in Athens for his film’s premiere, talked to Kathimerini about his influences and the way he works. You feel you are continuing the tradition of your country’s acclaimed filmmakers, like Bela Tarr. Do you feel there are similarities? I know that my films appear similar, with their slow pace and the long scenes and so on. But I think that applies only to the surface. Deep down we are entirely different. He is a true master of the old school, and has done some wonderful film versions of novels, like «Satantango.» I am just a young scriptwriter and director who does his own stories. As a young filmmaker, do you have sources and funding for your films? When I started out, things were really very hard. But I was incredibly lucky, because my first film, «Rengeteg» (Forest), which in essence had a zero budget, won the Wolfgang Staudte prize at Berlin. After that success, it was easy to find the money for «Dealer,» which was a small amount anyway. My next step will be difficult, because my new project is a film at a more normal budget. How did you decide to make your main character a drug dealer? What was your aim, since drugs aren’t the prevailing issue? We are all aware of the silly stereotype, that drug users are the victims and dealers are the criminals. I am sick of that and I wanted to show something different. I believe that my dealer is something like a symbol of our times. On the other hand, this is not a documentary. It is an unpleasant journey, something like a metaphysical nightmare between life and death. Drugs are only a small detail. Why did you use «hostile» filming methods toward the viewers, like the long duration of the film (160 minutes), the slow pace and the rather annoying buzz that can be heard throughout? This film was not made for entertainment. I think that is clear. I have heard from audiences all over the world that it is a hypnotizing meditation film, more intense than anything they have ever seen. That makes me particularly happy, because that is what I wanted to achieve. In your next project, would you like to work outside your country? I already have a project, which will be an entirely different film. It will be a dark fantasy with European joint producers and American actors. The project’s title is «Amanita,» which is the name of a species of hallucinogenic mushrooms. It will be something chilling.