Born in the countryside, and sent to a Benedictine monastery at age 10 (where he learned Italian and European culture), Gyongyossy was jailed in 1951 for three years during one of the most politically repressive eras of Hungary’s recent history. Studying filmmaking during the ’50s and ’60s under many of the country’s great directors, he finally took the helm with the rural-set “Palm Sunday” (1968), which drew attention on the fest and art circuit, later forming a creative menage a trois with Kabay and wife Petenyi, the latter coming from the academic world.
Docu showcases all the major works, including “A Quite Ordinary Life,” “People of the Puszta,” the Oscar-nommed “Job’s Revolt” and dramadocu “Homeless,” building a portrait of a multifaceted man forever marked by his years of imprisonment and by his childhood memories of rural community values, group celebration and shared experiences. In later years, his best work was in documentaries rather than features.
Tech credits are OK, given the sometimes average quality of the materials at hand, and extracts and commentary well-matched. Even for those who think they know the person behind the pictures, there still are a few surprises here.