Hungarian director Roland Vranik’s film ‘The Citizen’ won the European Union Film Festival’s Audience Award in Toronto, news portal szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu reported.
Founded in 2004 as a salve to Hollywood monotony, the official European Union Film Festival (EUFF) is held every year in Toronto, showcasing 28 contemporary films drawn from each of the EU’s member countries.
The award-winning Hungarian film portrays the struggles of a middle-aged refugee name Wilson, and his attempts to find his place in Hungarian society. In the film Wilson (Dr. Marcelo Cake-Bialy), whose family was killed during an outbreak of civil war in Guinea-Bissau, fled to Budapest as a political refugee, and ended up working as a security guard in a grocery store at the age of fifty. The story follows his quest for Hungarian citizenship, and he is aided in his preparations by Mari (Ágnes Máhr), a history teacher; during the course of his trials he also meets Shirin (Arghavan Shekari), a young Iranian woman whose only hope to avoid deportation is to marry a Hungarian citizen.
The EUFF Audience Award is far from the first win on the festival circuit for Vranik’s film. In September, it won the top prize at the 25th Love is Folly International Film Festival, held from August 25th to September 3rd in Varna, Bulgaria. Previously, it was named the best screenplay award at Portugal’s Fantasporto Festival. It also won ‘Best Narrative Feature Film, Drama’ at the Cinequest Film and VR Festival in California, an award from university students in The Hague, as well as a Special Jury Prize at the Skip City International Digital Cinema Festival, held this past July in Japan.
The topics raised in The Citizen are by no means new to the film’s star, Dr. Marcelo Cake-Baly, who is himself originally a refugee from Guinea-Bissau. You can read Hungary Today’s full review of The Citizen, as well as our interviews with Róland Vranik and Marcelo Cake-Bialy, here.