This past Sunday, at the 89th Annual Academy Awards, Sing (Mindenki), directed by Hungarian Kristof Deák, won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film, the first time a Hungarian has won in that category.
Following his unprecedented win, Hungarian news site Index.hu sat down with Deák to discuss the experience of attending the world’s biggest film awards, as well as what lies in store next for the young director.
Deák told the Hungarian news site that he had not expected his film to win an Oscar; in fact, he claimed to have not even written a speech until he was actually sitting in the Dolby Theatre during the award ceremony, at which point he “typed a few key words into [his] cellphone.”
The Hungarian director said that he greatly enjoyed attending the Oscars ceremony, saying that it
was very good to sit there, as the most important figures of the entertainment industry went about trying to entertain each other—you can imagine, this is the moment, when everyone tries to bring the best out of themselves. These are the same faces that the entire world cries and laughs with: they truly know what they are doing.
When Sing was announced as the winner in the Best Live Action Short Film Category, Deák said that he was “pretty unprepared…Of course, I know that many people reacted positively to our film…but I didn’t know how the thousands of [Academy] voters would react.”
There was one moment, however, that was so strange as to cause Sing’s director to momentarily forget the enormity of his achievement. Deák described the moment when smash-hit La La Land was accidentally announced as Best Picture as “an unbelievable surreal experience, that such an otherwise extremely professionally organized show could make such a huge mistake.” The shock of the moment, in which La La Land producers actually gave acceptance speeches for several minutes before it became clear that Moonlight was the true Best Picture winner, was such that, for a moment at least, Deák said “the thought that I had won an Oscar didn’t even cross my mind for a second.”
Describing the events of the awards-night after-parties, Deák described his excitement at being able to share a toast with Emma Stone, as well as to have a good discussion with Brie Larson. According to the Hungarian director, Larson was extremely lovely; she “talked about what it was like to win last year, and made friends with my wife, Nina…we took photos of each other with our Oscars.”
In addition, Larson shared a bit of advice with Deák about winning an Oscar, advice that she herself had received from Spanish actor Javier Bardem: “Give it five years, then you will understand what all this means.”
Deák also discussed what Sing’s Academy Award might mean for his career. Speaking about the future, the young director said that winning an Oscar will certainly help his future plans, saying “because of this award, I might be able to move upward a few steps in one bigger leap. But even if that is the case, I still don’t want to immediately go and direct ‘Titanic 3.’ I don’t think that would be the next step. I would like to see what I can make of this situation in Hollywood, and I would also like to further develop my ideas in Hungary as well.”
The Hungarian director added that the real reward of an Oscar win could be found in the fact that the prestige gained from such an award gives him the freedom
to work on my own plans, that will probably now arouse greater interest from producers and investors, meaning that perhaps I might even be able to realize them. This is the most important thing for me: how can I work on all the projects that I find worthwhile, and have the time to make them reality, in a way that they are at least as good as Sing.