Hungarian film student Melinda Biró is one of the independant filmmakers from Central Europe who were showcased at the Calvert Journal Film Festival. Her short student film “A Swimming Lesson from Dad” tells the story of terrified six-year-old Vivi’s day at the pool as her father attempts to teach her to swim.
Hi Melinda, thanks for taking the time to chat to us about your short film presented at this year’s edition of the Calvert Journal Film Festival. First things first, your film was selected last year at the Rome Independent Film Festival, now at the Calvert Journal Film Festival. Congratulations. How do you feel?
Melinda Biró: These are good things, but the previous year has felt so absurd and painful at times, so it has been hard for me to enjoy these moments. Only now am I starting to be able to truly “live” these emotions.
We’ll try not to reveal too much of the film. But could you maybe tell how and why did you end up writing this story?
MB: I love abstract and universal topics, but my first film had to be intimate and personal as well, and I think this story is a good combination of both. The starting premise is based on an anecdote from my childhood my Dad told me a thousand times. We went to a water park when I was as young as Vivi in the film, and my father, after a while, noticed, that I was running around the kiddie pool screaming, because I was too scared to go in. I chose this anecdote as my “diving board”, pardon the pun.
The movie is visually stunning, and it mixes wide aerial shots of the swimming pool and very intimate close ups. What emotions did you try to achieve by mixing these two types of shots together?
MB: These two shots were a way for me to create Vivi’s microcosmos. I wanted to connect the extremely universal with the extremely personal. Also, the goal with these big, sudden jumps between very far to very close, was to convey the rush of anxiety in a visceral way.
You have followed academic studies in both film practice and film theory, but who are your biggest influences in international and Hungarian cinema? Can you name your all-time favorite director?
MB: I can’t choose an all-time favorite director, but my favorite Hungarian movie is “25 Fireman Street” by István Szabó.
What do you do besides making movies then?
MB: I’m very interested other forms of storytelling, like fairy tales, video games and comics. They are very inspiring for me – they help me think outside the traditional ways of filmmaking and narratives.
What’s next for you then? Any upcoming projects?
MB: I’ve just started this September a program at Raindance Film School. I’m going to make a proof-of-concept short film next summer for my future-goal feature film, an adaptation of Robert Bloch’s “That Hell-Bound Train”.