In 2023, the Moholy-Nagy Awards went to iconic film director Gyula Gazdag

Date: 2023.12.04
The 17th Moholy-Nagy Award was presented by József Fülöp to film director, screenwriter, and professor emeritus of the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and art director of the Sundance Filmmakers Lab Gyula Gazdag.

He was awarded the Moholy-Nagy Award in recognition of his lifetime achievements, in particular his nuanced and sensitive capture of the world around us, the subtle oscillations of the soul, and the fabric of society, his films of major significance, and his formative educational work.  

The films of the legendary filmmaker and mainstay of Hungarian direct cinema, such as The Whistling Cobblestone, The Selection, or Singing on the Treadmill offer a window into the often grotesque everyday life in socialist Hungary, and help understand the mindset of the Kádár regime. The true yet extremely absurd stories continue to enthral viewers to this day.  

In his laudation speech, head of the NFI Film Archive Department György Ráduly highlighted how Gazdag’s integrity, insight, perfectionism, sharp but spot on comments, and of course unparalleled elegance make him a genuine role model for generations. Gazdag is a prominent representative of Central European Absurdism, showcasing contemporary Hungarian reality in his works showing kinship with the satirical films of the Czech New Wave, while treating the audience as adults, leaving them to form their own opinions about what they see. His films lay bare human nature and interpersonal games, as well as the workings of power and the destructive effects of paternalism. His most distinctive trademark, however, is humour -- the kind that is out there and just needs to be understood.

At the awards ceremony, he was able to meet surprise guest Judit Halász, one of the actors in his first film works. Kossuth and Jászai Mari award-winning actor praised the director’s oeuvre warmly, recalling the first time they had met at the filming of Lovefilm, where he had worked as director’s assistant to István Szabó. She also shared how deeply she had been impressed by Gazdag and never stopped following his career closely. His films had been shown from time to time at clandestine screenings, and were greatly admired except by the regime he did not glorify.

Gazdag gave a short presentation thanking the award. In his words, it is the director’s responsibility to find a language to match each story, which he illustrated with various scenes from historically significant films. He also held a master class for MOME students, working in small groups in a workshop setting.

A number of film professionals and previous Moholy-Nagy Award recipients were also present at the event, paying homage to Gazdag’s oeuvre. Event highlights included a short concert by the Saint Ephraim Male Choir.

More information about the Moholy-Nagy Award: 

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