Spring isn't quite here until Hungarian cinema blooms with new releases! So if you are up for watching some local movies, add these three new films to your list: a passionate relationship drama, a thrilling historical adventure, and a captivating animated feature.

Kalman's Day (Kálmán-nap)

Mirroring its predecessor, It's Not the Time of My Life (Ernelláék Farkaséknál), Szabolcs Hajdu's relationship trilogy's second instalment unfolds primarily in one location. Once again, the film focuses on conversations between two couples. However, there are some striking differences. It's Not the Time of My Life was about parenting issues, and Kalman's Day is about spousal intimacy and sexuality, while the former was a serious drama, the new film is witty but also dramatic (i.e. a dramedy), and there is a fifth character in addition to the couples in focus, a man who has lost his partner, which adds a twist to the story.

What makes Hajdu's film work is that, from the first scene, the audience feels that they are not watching a film, but reality. The situations, the gestures, the sentences, the accents, the looks, in short, everything is completely ordinary, authentic, and real, and this is not only due to the well-written script and the direction but also to the flawless acting. It steers clear of a common criticism of Hungarian cinema: there is nothing overacted or theatrical about it. Of course, it's refreshing to see faces on the screen that we rarely or never see. We hate to single out one name out of the five because the entire cast delivers phenomenal performances, but Nóra Földeáki particularly impressed us.

If you see only one film in the cinema in March, it should be Kalman's Day! It's clever and entertaining, and you even get a message to take home at the end, not to mention some real emotion. We're looking forward to the final instalment in the relationship trilogy, which may be released later this year.

Kalman's Day

Hungarian film drama, 71 min
Directed by Szabolcs Hajdu
Starring Orsi Tóth, Szabolcs Hajdu, Nóra Földeáki, Imre Gelányi, Domonkos Szabó
Release date: 14 March 2024
Distributed by Budapest Film

Cinemas screening it with English subtitles: Kino Cafe, Művész, Toldi

Now or Never! (Most vagy soha!)

Released just before the March 15th bank holiday, Now or Never! is the most expensive Hungarian film ever made. It's a romantic action movie that's clearly meant to be a Hollywood-style blockbuster. The film presents the Revolution of 15 March 1848 and is both following historical reality (in terms of chronological order) and not (it was basically a bloodless, almost peaceful sequence of events, as opposed to what we see in this film, and the Austrians did not harbour such intense animosity towards the Hungarians). If you're watching it as an adventure film, it can work, because the actors are decent, the pacing is good, the set is nice, and there's some excitement. At the same time, it's a bit of a dumb movie, like dozens of similar American flicks. A good example of this dumbness is the negative character, who was given the name ‘Farkasch' by the screenwriters (‘farkas' meaning ‘wolf') – the big bad wolf is all too familiar from folk tales, and the ‘sch' is needed at the end of his name to make the average viewer understand he's Austrian. Now or Never! pales in comparison to the historical epics of Hungarian cinema's Golden Age, exemplified by the work of legendary director Zoltán Várkonyi.


Hungarian historical adventure film, 135 min
Directed by Balázs Lóth
Starring Nándor Berettyán, Sára Smolygó, Lajos Ottó Horváth, Gábor Jászberényi
Release date: 14 March 2024
Distributed by Fórum Hungary

Cinemas screening it with English subtitles: Művész

Pelikan Blue

It's interesting to note that the premiere of the new Hungarian animated film falls on April 4th, a former national holiday celebrating Soviet liberation, a day no longer observed. The film opens with the twilight of the 40-year communist regime. Its departure ushers in an era of newfound liberty – or perhaps a more nuanced 'quasi-freedom', where anything would be possible if only you had the means, you just had to be a little clever. Just as our heroes, Ákos, Laci, and Petya, who wanted to see the world after the Iron Curtain's fall and the border's opening. Fuelled by their chemistry knowledge, they forged train tickets using Pelikan blue carbon paper, a key tool in their operation. This act unlocked the gateway to Europe, not just for them, but for many others who followed their lead. To delve deeper would be to spoil the delightful surprise Pelikan Blue offers. This captivating blend of documentary and animation is a rare gem, a film that entertains as much as it informs.


Hungarian animated documentary, 79 min
Directed by László Csáki
With the voice talents of Norman Lévai, Ágoston Kenéz, Kornél Tegyi, Vivien Rujder, Szabolcs Thuróczy, Renátó Olasz
Release date: 4 April 2024.
Distributed by JUNO11 Pictures

Cinemas screening it with English subtitles: Művész