As Up to Now is part of the Official Selection of the Cinéfondation this year. The story, based on the short story by Krisztina Tóth of the same name and depicts the relationship of a mother and daughter in the wake of the mother’s diagnosis with an incurable disease. Meet the director, Katalin Moldovai.
As Up to Now is your graduation film. When did you start working with films?
I started working with films quite late actually. I was 26 years old when I applied to Sapienta University in Cluj-Napoca. Naturally I enjoyed movies a lot before that point as well, I had watched a lot of them, but this was the time where I wanted to work on them for myself. And after that I moved to Budapest to continue my studies.
How did you learn that your short film was selected for the Cinéfondation?
I submitted my film in February, after which I received a first email asking about which festivals where I had already screened my movie. A couple of days later I received an email from Dimitra Karya, the director of the Cinéfondation Selection. It was so unbelievable that I immediately resarched the organisation to make sure we had genuinely received the letter from Cinéfondation. But it was true and I quickly sent the news over to the others. We were very happy.
Will this be your first time in Cannes? And if so, what are you looking forward to the most?
Yes! Well, first of all I’m looking forward to swimming in the sea, so I hope we will have great weather. But more seriously I hope it will be a great community experience for the crew. A lot of us are going, Zita Palóczi with whom I wrote the script, Zsófia Makkos the production manager, Orsolya Soltész the editor, András Táborosi the cinematographer and Rozi Lovas, one of the protagonists of the film. The others could not make it unfortunately.
Let’s talk a bit about the movie. How did you come up with the topic?
We always wanted to adapt a short story. We read many contemporary Hungarian short stories, but Krisztina Tóth’s was ideal. We were looking for a story that has just a couple of characters. It was also very important that we could personally connect to the story, something that we could empathise with. At that time I was very preoccupied by mother-daughter relationships, as well as the passing of loved ones. These two aspects are brought together in Margit’s and Judit’s story, and so that is why we chose it.
For me the most powerful scene perhaps was when Margit lays out her best outfits meticulously on her bed, and takes great delight in getting ready for her radiation therapy. What kind of symbolism can we find here?
Hope is the emphasis, which is the new found purpose of her life. She has something new to do in the world, the fact that she has to be somewhere on a weekly basis makes her feel that she has something to do again. And this on its own is some kind of healing.
This year’s edition of World of Shorts focuses on mistakes and how we can learn from them. Do you have any specific mistake that you have learnt from in your career?
There have been plenty, where should I start? This is a very complex question if I think about it and there are a lot of things that I could say. One of my main mistakes is that I have had to learn to focus my energy on the right things. Sometimes in life you are in a stressful situation or someplace that is just not working out, and this is taking up all your thoughts and emotions. In these kinds of situations you can lose focus of the things that will take you forward. This is a mistake that I made a few times but I have learned from it. I am a slow learner, we could say. But in the end I have learnt how not to wallow in bad situations, and how important it is to recognise when you are in one. When bad things start to happen to you, it is a kind of feedback from your surroundings that something is not right. Then it is perhaps better to move on, to realise this might not be the right track for you. There are these waves that bring you down but also can pick you back up. The other mistake that I made is that I didn’t dare to reach out and accept help. For me giving is so easy and natural, however accepting contributions and help from others can still be difficult. I think it is important to learn how to ask for and receive help.
Are you working on something at the moment?
We are shooting a documentary about a Calvinist pastor in Transylvania. He visits his community who are scattered all over the countryside. These communities live very far from each other and he spends most of his time travelling. I want this film to be about his resilience and his altruism. Perhaps it comes from both his personality and his vocation that he is doing so much for others. I also want to focus on the families he is visiting, who are mostly cohabiting with older generations. The past is strongly present and the stories that come to life about the communist regime in Romania are fascinating.