IFFR pays tribute to Judit Elek with major retrospective


Celebrating her 85th birthday in 2023, Hungarian film director Judit Elek’s eighteen most famous works are presented at International Film Festival Rotterdam, along with the festival’s publication, Judit Elek: The Lady from Budapest.

Prestigious IFFR is a leading cultural platform that champions radical, taboo-breaking filmmakers and visual artists. One of the highlights of this year's 53rd edition of the festival, running until 5 February, is the presentation of eighteen of the works of Judit Elek, a Hungarian feature and documentary film director who recently celebrated her 85th birthday and won the Kossuth and Béla Balázs Prizes throughout her 50 year-old carrier.

(Source: IFFR)

“Our Focus programmes are a chance for us to celebrate the work of filmmakers whose remarkable careers haven’t always been given the attention they deserve. As always we’re committed to looking into unlikely spheres, be it rural documentaries from 1970s people’s Hungary, performance-based expanded cinema or wild free-form Japanese anime. The unexpected always shines brightly at IFFR.” – Festival director, Vanja Kaludjercic about the Program. Judit Elek's work often touches on issues of political oppression and Jewishness, varying between compassion, tenderness and fury.

The programme includes the harsh and unsparing look at a dying relationship Maybe Tomorrow (1979), the sarcastic historical allegory The Trial of Martinovics and the Hungarian Jacobins (1981), and the Holocaust anchored documentary portrait To Speak the Unspeakable – The Message of Elie Wiesel (1996).

-NFI/Elek Judit
Judit Elek on the set of Memories of a River (Source: NFI/Elek Judit)

In IFFR’s retrospective selection, 18 films by Judit Elek are presented, nine of which were restored and provided for the festival by the National Film Institute (Encounter, 1963, Inhabitants of Castles in Hungary in 1966, 1966, How Long Does Man Live, 1967, The Lady from Constantinople, 1969, In the Field of God, 1972-73, A Commonplace Story, 1975, Maybe Tomorrow, 1980, Maria's Day, 1983, Memories of a River, 1989).

A special feature of the program is that three films are screened from 35 mm film copies (To say the Unspeakable… The Message of Elie Wiesel, Awakening, The Eighth Day of the Week).

Judit Elek will be present to launch and sign copies of a publication on her life and career, specially commissioned by IFFR. Keep reading for more information on select titles and a full list of films to be shown in this programme.