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Hungary, 2022, 95 min., Hungarian with English subtitles Director: Noémi Veronika Szakonyi


  • Date: 28/10/2023 08:30 PM
  • Location 20 Carlton St., Toronto, ON M5B 2H5, Canada (Map)

Description

Zsófi, the defiant teenager, gives up her newborn daughter through open adoption, but doubts begin to arise within her body and soul. According to Hungarian law, she has six weeks to change her mind.



Director: Noémi Veronika Szakonyi        Scriptwriter: Noémi Veronika Szakonyi, Máté Artur Vincze        Co-Scriptwriter: Daniel Daoud        Cinematographer: Zoltán Dévényi        Music Composer: Andor Sperling        Editor: László Hargittai H.S.E., Anna Vághy


LEAD CAST

Katalin Román Zsofi        Zsuzsa Járó Bea       Lana Szczaurski Mesi       Móni Balsai Emma       András Mészáros Gabor      Kitti Keresztesi Reka       

Katalin Takács Miss Judit        Anna Gyorgyi Miss Heni       Szabolcs Székely Krisztián



SYNOPSIS

Zsófi, the rebellious teenager lives in a tiny flat with her little sister Mesi, and her unstable mother, Bea. Zsófi discovered late that she was pregnant and decided to give up her baby through open adoption to a couple. Bea cannot accept her daughter’s decision, but she does not realize that neither her, nor the circumstances are suitable to welcome a newborn. Zsófi always had to behave like a grownup, working and making sensible decisions instead of her mother and for her sister. She is still at high school and her only vantage point is her table tennis career for which she works assiduously. She plans the adoption thoroughly with the help of a social worker. Following the birth, she is given six weeks by law to change her mind and ask for her child back. She seems to be able to control her feelings ruthlessly and continue towards the goals she set. At the same time, her maternal feelings intensify, doubts arise, and she slowly begins to question her own decisions.


DIRECTOR'S BIOGRAPHY

(Born: Budapest 30/11/1987)

Noémi Veronika Szakonyi is a freelance film director and producer. She studied International Relations in Hungary and Germany. Noémi started her film education on a scholarship at Beijing Film Academy. After leaving China, she applied to the University of Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest for the Directing Documentaries MA program, from where she graduated in 2015. From 2017 to 2018 she was a graduate candidate at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Filmmaking MFA program. She is currently running her Budapest based company Match Frame Productions, focusing on social issue driven documentaries and short films. As a director, she works on her first long-term feature documentary Afterglow, and finished her first feature film Six Weeks. Her short film Magic Whistle (2019) was nominated for Best Hungarian Short Film of the Year. Recently, she produces four feature documentaries and a VR project. Noémi was a Sundance Documentary Film Program Grantee in 2015, 2019 and 2021. 


FILMOGRAPHY (AS DIRECTOR)

2022, Six Weeks, 1st narrative feature film 

2019, Magic Whistle, short film

2018, The Unnecessary Thing, short film

2017, Photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond, documentary 

2016, Pig Slaughter, short film 

2015, Prisoners of Tales, short, animated documentary 

2014, Birdman, short docu-fiction 


DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

During the past seven years, with my permanent co-creator and husband, Mate Artur Vincze, we filmed several documentaries on topics related to adoption. One aspect that stood out during our research was the six-week withdrawal period that only exists since 2014 in open adoptions in Hungary. This controversial law raises fears in adoptive couples, as they are unable to establish a bond with their adopted child during this period, knowing that the biological mother can call them any minute. It also takes a serious toll on the biological mothers, taking them for a turbulent emotional rollercoaster ride after having made the most difficult decision of their lives. In our film, we wanted to explore this tense situation where everyone is right, based on interviews conducted with many mothers and adoptive couples within the context of present-day Hungary. Authenticity was key to us, so the adoptive mother was played by an actress who went through the same procedure. 

We found both birth and adoptive mothers’ struggles poignant and moving, but we chose the biological mother as our protagonist. We believe that their status is the most precarious and hopeless during this process, and their story is often like a scream silenced by the rusty norms of our society. These mothers, just like our protagonist, Zsofi, have to take on responsibilities no one should be facing alone. In our film, we portray a character that is based on young biological mothers’ untold stories. Despite Zsofi’s young age, due to her determined nature, she is able to intellectually assess exactly where she is going and what the consequences of her decisions are, but emotionally, she still lives in a closed, suffocating environment that crumbles slowly during the six weeks and provides a glimpse into her soul. We express these feelings and states through the intimate, documentary style camera movements and the detailed, expressive sound design, so the audience can breathe together with the protagonist. 

Society often stigmatizes these biological mothers without knowing or understanding what they are actually going through. With this film, we would like to prove them wrong and empower the many girls, women and mothers who make this tough decision, and embrace them.