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Manhood Review

FIPRESCI Warsaw Critics Project 2017 2017-10-23


Before directing his debut feature, Hungarian filmmaker Peter Politzer gained considerable experience as a film editor. That is why it is not surprising that, in Manhood, the director's main storytelling instrument is montage. He tells us a tale of three generations of people living in Budapest. If D.W. Griffith, in his 1916 movie Intolerance, employed parallel editing to emphasize thematic similarities across different epochs, here Politzer articulates the continuity of phenomena.

Manhood follows three men at various stages of their life in Budapest. Samu (Samu Fischer) is a 13-year-old football fan who dreams of becoming a successful athlete. Deszo (Martin Szipal) is a 91-year-old man whose life is associated with photography and love stories. Forty-year-old bassist Frank (Peter Vass) has a life full of difficulties. Politzer visualizes these lives with a geometric and sculptural visual accuracy. When Deszo speaks in voiceover, while we observe his activities , the impression is that he has been deprived of the right to speak.

The director dramatizes this scenario with black-and-white imagery, although the film seems more gray than black-and-white. This is partly a reflection on our routine and hopeless life. A soundtrack of jazz compositions partly neutralizes this tension, as does humor, which adds comedy.

We can ask a question: what is the ideological or political base of Manhood? The answer is difficult, because the director does not make the meaning or message of his stories clear. The story is not complex. The cinematographer's camera is watching the events and observing heroes from a spiritual perspective. However, it is important to have a deep study of the background where they have to exist. Their "idea of success" is elusive, because the high class determines it.

In this case, Politzer's cinematic language is only descriptive and he just fixes the lives of heroes. Sometimes such narrative techniques are justified, and the film becomes interesting from many perspectives. But in this case, this solution is ineffective. The emotional and intellectual self-reflection on this film becomes difficult for the audience. There is no key episode (a direct and radical scene) in which we see that the protagonists have more or less identical problems; This is the reason for the film’s lack of catharsis.


FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Călin Boto is a Romanian emergent film critic and the editor-in-chief of Film Menu, a film magazine edited by students of the Film University in National University of Film and Drama in Bucharest (UNATC). He has written articles for several cultural publications such as Dilema Veche,Dissolved Magazine, SUB25 and he coordinates Film Menu’s weekly cineclub. At the moment he’s working on a bachelor's degree on the films and film criticism of Jonas Mekas.

Barbara Majsa was born and raised in Hungary, but currently resides in Sweden and attends Stockholm University for Cinema Studies. She has worked as a journalist since 2009, and has covered several film festivals. Barbara is the managing editor at Cinema Scandinavia, where she interviews film-makers and focuses her work on artistic and cultural products that reflect upon society - films concerning social, societal, economic and political issues.

Yulia Kuzischina is a film journalist, based in Moscow. She studied visual culture at Higher School of Economics and later started to write for two film-related websites, RussoRosso and Kinomania.ru. Currently she also works at a film sales company Ant!pode Sales & Distribution. Her main field of interest is Eastern European cinema.

Tomáš Hudák  is a programmer and a film critic based in Bratislava, Slovakia. Programming at independent cultural centre A4 – Space for contemporary culture, which focus on challenging and experimental art, is his main occupation throughout a year. He is also associated with IFF Cinematik in Pieštany, Bratislava IFF, and Film Festival 4 Elements in Banská Štiavnica. Regularly writing for film magazine Kinečko, his texts also appeared in other publications such as Senses of Cinema, Tess Magazine etc. In past, he worked as a film archivist at Slovak Film Institute and his archival research resulted in two papers on local film history.

Daria Badior is a film critic and a Culture Editor of LB.ua, one of Ukraine’s biggest online newspapers. Focuses on writing about contemporary Ukrainian cinema. Also she co-curates a project on LB.ua named Short-list about young Ukrainian filmmakers. Since 2017 takes part
in selecting films for Kyiv Film Critics Week, a new film festival held at the end of October. A member of FIPRESCI.

Łukasz Mańkowski Half of the Asian Cinema focused blog ‘Referat Filmowy’, Japanese Studies and Film Theory graduate from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, specializing in Asian Film. Occasionally photographer, translator and theatre-film journalist who simply loves ramen. Previously member of 5 Flavours Film Festival People’s Jury, FEFF Udine Student Campus and EIFF Student Critics Competition.

TUTORS of FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Yoana Pavlova is a Bulgarian writer, researcher, and programmer currently based in Paris.Her field of work includes cinema, VR, digital culture, and the New East. She is the foundingeditor of Festivalists.com (a playform for experimental media criticism), with bylines fornumerous print and online publications in Bulgarian, English, and French. Contributor to thefollowing books: Cinemas of Paris (2016, St Andrews Film Studies), Eastern Promises (2014,Festival Internacional de Cine de Donostia – San Sebastián), The Bulgarian Nouvelle Vague(2012, Edno).

Tommaso Tocci is based in Italy, where he works as a film critic and translator covering filmfestivals across Europe for international publications. He has also worked for BerlinaleTalents and for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and he currently serves as Co-Programmer for the Saas-Fee Film Festival in Switzerland.