CHILD MURDERS (Hungary-Ger / 1993)
Winner of the Fipresci Prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, writer-director Szab Ildiks Child Murders (Gyerekgyilkossgok) is a somber and hauntingly moving effort which impressionistically centers around the desolate life of a sensitive yet disturbed young boy. Disparagingly called "sodabottle", the bespectacled 12-year-old named Zsolt (an excellent Tth Barnabs) lives with his ailing grandmother (Kllai Ilona) in a shabby apartment complex on the outskirts of Budapest. The eroding mental health of the bedridden granny, who was once a famous theater actress, has caused her to communicate with Zsolt through cue cards, but since he ardently cares of her, he kindly plays along. In the meantime, while spending his days outside by his lonesome, Zsolts attention is caught by a pregnant young woman (Balogh Maria) roaming around the railway tracks. Quite possibly a gypsy, she turns out to be a juvenile center runaway who's shacked up in an abandoned train car. The duo's eventual friendship ends up affecting Zsolt's life forever.
Tonally and texturally similar to the films of Szabs Eastern European counterparts, Child Murders contains little actual violence, but it is marked by two disturbing acts, one due to necessity, the other, revenge, and both encompassing Zsolts antagonistic classmate, a wild-haired girl named Ibi (Kves Dra). Forebodingly lensed in B&W by Sas Tams -- along with Tarr Blas Damnation (1988), Fehr Gyrgys Twilight (1990), Sopsits rpd's Shooting Gallery (1990), and Janisch Attila's Shadow on the Snow (2001), author Forgch Andrs has mentioned Child Murders as one of the five late-80's/early-90's Hungarian films that are comparable to Tarrs Stntang (1994) in various aspects, including visualization -- and set to the haunting, evocative score of Jnos Msik (Makk Krolys Another Way ), the film paints a damning and despairing portrait of a society which cruelly disposes its own.
*The film had its international premiere at Cannes '93 (Directors' Fortnight). It also played at the Toronto Film Festival the same year.
*Now available on DVD in the U.S. from Facets/Bunyik.