I would consider extending this Chrismas short film – says director Attila Szász

The Müpa virtual advent calendar has a Christmas short film depicting the uplifting power of music and arts. The touching, teary-smiling production shows a special friendship between a girl and a magic concert piano, and it brings the same charming vibes to the festive season that the programmes of Müpa mean for the audience all year long – both online and offline.

The music we can hear in the short film, Psallite and Adeste Fideles, are two adaptations from a piano series by Franz Liszt. The originals were written by the elderly composer for his granddaughter Daniela, and the short film versions were adapted by Róbert Erdész from the band Solaris for the sake of easier playability for children.

The film is less than five minutes long, yet shows glimpses of a whole universe. Its director is Attila Szász, director honoured with the Béla Balázs Award, known for The Ambassador to Bern, Demimonde, and Eternal Winter. We were talking to him about the Christmas short film, the Müpa experience, and some exciting future plans.

How did the theme of the Christmas short film evolve?

The idea comes from Gábor Récsán, director of marketing of the Müpa. I added some more insights as a director that the Müpa crew also liked. The screenplay was formed constantly during the preparations, the shooting and even the editing, just like with a full-length movie. It became our common child, everyone put a bit in it.

The beginning is more like a thriller or noir – a rather unusual choice for such a Christmas film.

That wasn’t initial. We only wanted to show the loneliness of the life of a piano if it is under the stage, separated from the spotlight and the audience, no matter how nice are the surroundings. Especially in a period when there are no concerts. But then the protagonist girl appears, and then the colours and the mood changes, it becomes warmer, friendlier.

Did the covid-19 pandemic influence the vibes, the imagery, the message of this film?

The main influence of the pandemic is the above-mentioned dark and lonely period of the piano when nobody plays it due to the cancellation of all concerts.

What does Müpa mean to you?

The highest quality of culture and arts. The name ‘Palace of Arts’ still applies, even if it was meanwhile stylised. (Translator’s note: ‘Művészetek Palotája’, palace of arts in Hungarian, was constantly referred to MüPa in everyday language, and the institution officially changed it in the mid-2010s.)

What memorable production or event comes to your mind if you think of the Müpa?

Two concerts of Keith Jarrett. The 2016 one has been published these days under the title Budapest Concert.

If you were to make a full-length film with Müpa as the main location, what genre would it be, with whom in the main role, and what would the story be?

The world of musicians is very exciting, so a Whiplash-like story would be great in the Müpa, like of a female cellist. But to be honest, this little Christmas film was so much fun to make that I would even consider extending it to a longer one.

How do you replace cinema, theatre, concerts in your life at the moment?

With streaming. As long as this is the best solution, I watch them all online, also on the Müpa website, among others.

After the reopening, whom do you want to see and listen to on the Müpa stage the most?

Anyone. Most important is for that to happen soon.

Interview: Zsuzsanna Deák

Translation: Zsófia Hacsek