Dinner with Cum înalți un zmeu? [How to Fly a Kite?]
Interview with Gábor Loránd, director of Cum înalți un zmeu? [How to Fly a Kite?]
Your film depicts a young boy’s passage into adulthood. What was the appeal in the subject matter?
This film is based on a real event, which was on the news two years ago, where the victim was accompanied by a 13-year-old boy when this tragic event occurred. It made me think about what kind of an effect such an event can have on someone so young and how the person we become in adulthood is somehow determined by the social-geographical-political-economical context in which we are brought up. I grew up in a place where I remember being afraid of people like this young boy, Aurel – always unpredictable, sometimes violent, frequently impulsive, filled with anger… I don’t remember ever thinking of how they lived, what they saw as children, what rushed their passage into adulthood. When I was growing up, I had this idea from my parents that I can become anything, but I actually think that we are products of our environment. I never thought of how fear towards the Romani people is a construct until I realised that something seemingly innocent as a family joke like “If you don’t behave, the gypsies will take you away!” can have such a long-lasting effect in the subconscious. I just realized at one point, that I had this reflex of putting my hand on my pocket which held my phone every time a Romani person would ask for the time on the street. This film gave me the possibility of exploring these themes.
Cum înalți un zmeu? was awarded with the Grand Jury Prize at the Poitiers Film Festival. Congratulations! What has been the impact of that success on your career and filmmaking so far?
Thank you! It is the best kind of recognition, because I really love and respect this festival. They manage to bring so many young people to see student short films, this is something very unfamiliar for me, because back home I couldn’t imagine a sold-out screening of student films or a 500-seat theater packed with adolescents. Also, it gave me a sense of calm for the time being. I have just finished my studies, I am still figuring out how to survive financially, I was working as a bike messenger when I got the prize. Which was great by the way, I don’t want to create the impression that I am victimizing myself. I was trying to be independent and also continue writing but I didn’t think of the fact that after a day of biking maybe I would be too tired to write. Winter is here and now I can focus on writing my next project.
Can you explain the title Cum înalți un zmeu?
Cum înalți un zmeu? or How to Fly a Kite? has to do with this concept of determinism I discussed in the first question. Somewhat poetic of course, it’s another way of me asking how the heck can Aurel become anything after such a dreadful event. It also refers to a little memory of mine from my childhood. We lived on the outskirts of the city, I could see the forest from my apartment, our block was the last one. Romani families lived in the forest nearby and would transit near the playground where we hung out. One afternoon, we were flying a kite with my sister and my parents when a little Romani boy appeared out of nowhere and asked my father if he would let him jump on the kite and fly away. A few moments later, his older brother appeared, walked up to him, and casually hit him in the head with a steel pipe for bothering us.
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
It’s hard for me to answer this question because I haven’t directed a feature film yet, so the short film format is all I know at the moment, not having a base of comparison. Maybe not the short film format itself, but the fact that this is a school project gave me total creative freedom. Also, it was possible for me to shoot it really fast, a couple of months after deciding on making a film about the subject matter.
What do you consider your cinematographic references?
I think every film I ever saw impacted me in some way. I know when I first started thinking about studying film, I was obsessed with Tarr Béla, watching his films and not understanding anything. There are many films and filmmakers who influenced me. For this film some of the references were films by the Dardenne brothers and Pawel Pawlikowski. I also think that Cristi Puiu’s way of thinking about cinema also had a great influence on me, also the cinema of Jim Jarmusch, Noah Baumbach, John Cassavetes, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Sohrab Shahid-Saless to name a few.
Cum înalți un zmeu? [How to Fly a Kite?] is part of International Competition I2.