Lilies for Andersen – Interview with Bence Fliegauf

Silver Bear winner Bence Fliegauf returns to the Berlinale with a movie full of contemporary mystery that reveals the spiritual side of the Hungarian capital and its neighbourhood. The director tells us about his personal connection to the film and relives old memories believed to be lost. ‘Lily Lane’ is compulsory for fans of gloomy fairy tales and delicate family dramas.

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How do you see the role of ‘Lily Lane’ in your work?
B.F.: This is a deeply balladic movie with a lot of water, darkness, thrill and flames in it. I tried to capture the passing and dreamlike moments of my childhood that were beautiful but also terrific. I had this kind of two­faced time back then and I wanted ‘Lily Lane’ to evoke the minutes that slipped away. The story suggests a special nostalgia for the atmosphere of a child’s stormy soul. I don’t think that this attitude is very different to any of my previous artistic concepts, though. I just went through the same process as I always do.

How did you develop the script?
B.F.: I was actually very inspired by the adventures I have had with my own son. Once he pelted me with rotten plums that I tried to hit with a nunchaku, another time we blew rainbow­coloured bubbles in the dark and took photos of them while they were twinkling like surreal planets in endless space. When my son was still quite young he was highly interested in the matter of life and death. He kept asking me the most complex and confusing questions all the time. What will happen to the dead pigeons? Where will grandma’s thoughts go when she dies? I had to think about my answers carefully since I didn’t want him to be deceived. So I finally made this movie that I see as itself being an answer. I would also like to highlight the title, ‘Lily Lane’, which is a real place in the Buda Hills near Budapest and where the story takes place. I like the sound of the words because they somehow have a halo or an aura around them. In my opinion, they perfectly express the surreal character of the movie.

Bálint Sótonyi and Bence Fliegauf

Bálint Sótonyi and Bence Fliegauf

Why is it so important in your work to depict parent­child relationships or oppose adults to child roles?
B.F.: The stakes are raised when you have children and things suddenly become deeper and sharper. Tales spring up, miracles and nightmares happen, sensuality intensifies – the boring reality of the adult is eliminated. You find everything there that is worth living for. Spending time with a child is the best way to improve your character. When certain events happen – like a divorce, a death or moving into a new place – the dullness of everyday life immediately comes crashing down. In these fragile situations roles can easily be mixed up. You try to hold on tight to each other, but you have to keep in mind that the chaos and the spectacular suffering of adulthood can be very harmful to a young person. They see us as a solution, as the path they have to follow. We have to focus on not polluting their dreams because the effects of our acts and of our thoughts are reflected in their eyes, in their touch and in how they lose their beautiful childish smile.

The film has a unique visual style. What was the initial concept?
B.F.: When we fixed the details with our cinematographer, Zoltán Lovasi, we tried to develop an intimate but very diversified visual language. Evaluating the film now as a finished product, I think that we have more or less succeeded in creating what we were seeking.

Who will be able to watch ‘Lily Lane’ once the Berlinale comes to an end?
I’m not good at business and I don’t know how or to whom to sell a movie. I’m just truly honoured when a cinema­goer chooses to buy a ticket to see my film. It would also be great to address people who love the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, The Cure’s album ‘Disintegration’ or Theodor Kittelsen’s illustrations. I think people who fit these categories would certainly understand what ‘Lily Lane’ means.

By Janka Barkóczi

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