- Title: Hungarian film confronts refugee crisis
- Date: 2nd October 2016
- Summary: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (FILE - 2015) (REUTERS) VARIOUS REFUGEES CAMPED IN THE UNDERPASS OF KELETI RAILWAY STATION
- Embargoed: 17th October 2016 15:56
- Keywords: Hungary film The Superfluous Man Kornel Mindroczo Keleti station refugees Syria Budapest
- Location: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
- City: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Film
- Reuters ID: LVA00252BAP1J
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: When Hungarian filmmaker Kornel Mundruczo reviewed a screenplay in 2014 about the adventures of a Syrian refugee boy in Budapest, the first page carried the notation "sometime in the future".
In less than a year, refugees would flood Hungary, provoking a strong populist response from right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who built a razor-wire fence to keep them out, and waged months of campaigning, vilifying them before Sunday's (October 2) referendum on accepting mandatory EU quotas for the relocation of refugees.
Billboards associate immigration with terrorism and crime, and government media has denigrated migrants systematically.
As Hungarians voted in the referendum, Mundruczo shot scenes outside Budapest Keleti railway station, with props like an underpass tent city, or big crowds at the railway terminus - faithful to actual scenes seen in the crisis last year.
"History has caught up with us," Mundruczo told Reuters on set.
The film, 'The Superfluous Man', explores the heart of the migration issue. Mundruczo said at first he was not happy with such a politicised theme but decided to stick with it.
"This problem has gnawed at Europe for a long time. Our film... (is) about the ideologically disintegrating Europe and the ultimate challenge facing it," he said.
The director, whose last film 'White God' received a Cannes prize 'Un certain regard', said the migrant crisis offered a golden opportunity for Europe, adding, even Hungary's part was important, whatever the government rhetoric.
"Europe has not had a worthy challenge in a very long time," he said. "We can articulate again the values that are important to us: what we live by, what Christianity or our morals mean."
"We will drift apart if we cannot relate to this situation like an European," he said. "It is a grown-up challenge, one cannot give infantile, self-deprecating answers to. But the answers are unworthy, and infantile."
But that is just what the government did, he added.
"The campaign treats Hungarians like children, forcing us to take a pro-or-con stand in a question formulated in baby talk and continually averting our gaze from the real problems that are inside the tents like these."
Passers-by were intrigued by the film set but divided by the issue.
70-year-old resident Maria Szebeni recalled last year's crisis when refugees she called 'unpeaceful' marched towards the Austrian border from the train station.
"I live (nearby) and I could see the refugees marching along. I had a bad feeling what might happen. I was afraid," she said.
35-year-old Gabor Laufer said exclusion and rejection were the wrong attitudes towards migration.
"The means, this campaign, is disgusting," he said. "So evil, inciteful, hateful."
Last year, hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East crossed Hungary on their way to richer countries in Western Europe. This year Hungary recorded around 18,000 illegal border crossings.
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