FNE at Berlinale 2021: Hungarian Debut Natural Light Competes at Berlinale

    Natural Light by Dénes Nagy Natural Light by Dénes Nagy photo: Dobos Tamas

    BUDAPEST: The first feature of Hungarian director Dénes Nagy, Natural light / Természetes fény has been invited to the Main Competition of the 71st Berlin International Film Festival, which opens on 1 March 2021. The film is a Hungarian/Latvian/French/German coproduction. This is the first time two Hungarian films will compete for the Golden Bear.

    Bence Flieaguf’s Forest - I See You Everywhere also screens at the Berlinale. Ildikó Enyedi’s romantic drama On Body and Soul / Testről és lélekről was the last Hungarian feature participating in the Main Competition, winning the main prize in 2017.

    Natural Light is based on Pál Závada’s novel. It is set in the occupied part of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. A Hungarian infantry regiment is looking for soviet partisans in swampy forests and in hidden Russian villages. The film depicts the everyday activities of that unit through the eyes of sub-lieutenant István Semetka. Because of the sudden death of his commander, he has to deal with the great burden placed on his shoulders.

    „The characters of Natural Light are neither heroes nor evil people. They are simple farmers just like the Russian villagers. They have been enlisted, they are homesick, exhausted, freezing and afraid, but following orders. The film depicts them in a situation in which they don’t have a clear picture of what awaits them,” Nagy said in a statement. 

    The shooting took place during the autumn season of 2019 in the Eastern part of Latvia and in Hungary, with amateur actors. Ferenc Szabó plays the main role, the cast includes Tamás Garbacz, László Bajkó and Gyula Franczia.

    „In certain senses they went through similar things as those enlisted farmers fighting in the Soviet Union,” the director said. The actors also had to wear uniforms, travelled to a faraway country, didn’t speak the local languages, got guns, and after military training they faced Russian and Latvian villagers, who were also played by amateurs.

    Dénes Nagy’s short film Soft Rain / Lágy eső screened in the Director's Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. His regular DoP is Tamás Dobos. The producers are Sára László and Marcell Gerő.

    The film was granted 250 million HUF / 697,000 EUR by the National Film Institue – Hungary and received a grant of 85,000 EUR from The National Film Centre of Latvia  It was produced by Campfilm in coproduction with Mistrus Media, Lilith Films, Propellerfilm, ZDF Arte, Novak Prod and Proton Cinema. It was supported by Eurimages, CNC – Aide aux Cinemas du Monde, the National Film Centre of Latvia, Riga City Council and Creative Europe Media.

    The film is set to be released in the spring of 2021 in Hungary, if film theatres are reopened.

    Production Information:

    Campfilm (Hungary)
    Mistrus Media (Latvia)
    Lilith Films (France)
    Propeller Film (Germany)
    NOVAK Prod (Belgium)
    Proton Cinema (Hungary)
    ZDF Arte (Germany)

    Supported by the National Film Institue – Hungary, Eurimages, CNC – Aide aux Cinemas du Monde, the National Film Centre of Latvia, Riga City Council and Creative Europe Media.

    Director: Dénes Nagy
    Scriptwriter: Dénes Nagy
    DoP: Tamás Dobos
    Production designer: Márton Ágh
    Editor: Nicolas Rumpl
    Cast: Ferenc Szabó, Tamás Garbacz, László Bajkó and Gyula Franczia