Citizen aka Az Allampolgar, written by Ivan Szabo, Roland Vranik and directed by the latter
The Hungarian cinema has had an incredible line, which is especially outstanding if we consider the size of the population and the fact that it had been under the communist regime for so long.
This rather small country has won two Oscars for Best Foreign Film, for the magnificent Mephisto and the more recent, 2015 winner Son of Saul.
Colonel Redl, Sunshine, Magyarok and My 20th Century are also impressive works of art that stay in the mind of audiences.
On Body and Soul is the entry for this year and it is in the same category of formidable, exceptional films, reviewed here:
Citizen, as this film was translated in our lands, is another gem, albeit it has not received the notoriety of Body and Soul, or any of the other Hungarian movies aforementioned, listed for the major competition of cinema.
The hero is Wilson, a unique character, a black man living in Budapest and facing various challenges, seeing as he is not a refugee, his interviews have not gone well and authorities recommended that he waits for another year.
Looking at Cake-Baly Marcelo in the role of the hero, one could wonder about the ease of finding such a talented man, where it is not expected that there is a big number of African refugees, seeing as the policy of Victor Orban and those who are even farther to the right is not to welcome, but on the contrary, to deter and chase potential immigrants away.
Indeed, this moving story deals with such issues and the hero is one of the role models that make audiences consider values, the morality of accepting or rejecting men, women and children who suffer in other countries.
Wilson in a role model in so many ways, with his gentle, soft, almost always serene approach, his compassion, willingness to risk his position for the other, his outlandish equanimity and efforts to save Shirin.
Integrity, Vitality, Bravery, Persistence, Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence, Appreciation of beauty and excellence, Hope, Gratitude, Humor, Spirituality, Prudence, Self-regulation, Pity and forgiveness, Humility and modesty, Citizenship, Fairness, Love of learning, Curiosity, Creativity, Open-mindedness and Perspective are on display when looking at this hero.
Early on in the narrative, Wilson has to answer questions that will determine if he has passed the exam for citizenship and they cover the Middle Ages in Hungary, his knowledge or lack thereof Corvin, incidentally, a historic figure that both my country and our neighbor like to see as their hero, insisting on different parts of the same life, with clashing interpretations.
One member of the commission wants to know the information that the man who wants to have a Hungarian citizenship has on the Enlightenment and then concludes that the application must not be renewed for another year.
Wilson says that he knows the Hungarian national anthem, starts to say it and he is asked about the significance of various words and lines, which the gentle, likeable man states that he likes and agrees with.
The song mentions the need to love the country and understand that this is where you were born and will die, to which the apparently hostile questioner objects, when the examined man mentions he likes.
You left your country says the examiner, with the obvious intention of dismissing the pretense that the person who wants to be his fellow citizen does not really feel he will die here, or deserves to.
The refugee replies that he could not stay in his country and neither the questioner would have found it possible, after which he has to get out of the exam and then find some help for the next try.
Mari is a Hungarian woman, about fifty or over, approximately the same age as Wilson, who likes the nice woman, at least in the period when she did not resort to jealous, selfish and ultimately cruel acts.
Wilson shares the apartment with Shirin, a young woman who had escaped from Iran, was sent to a refugee camp from which she has escaped and therefore, without identity papers, she would be deported if discovered.
She is obliged to give birth without any professional, medical assistance, in the apartment, where there is only Wilson to comfort and try to help more, spiritually rather than in any other way, given his ignorance in such matters.
Alas, Mari is unhappy with the arrangement, especially after finding out the plan that, once Wilson gets his citizenship, he would marry for convenience Shirin, who will then be able to procure legal papers in turn.
Nudged by another woman, who insists on the fact that Shirin is much younger and Wilson must have an obscure, dark reason for staying there, give that “they” have this habit of keeping multiple wives…
There is racism and sometimes it feels like the only real humans, the ones manifesting feelings, compassion, humanity, temperance and transcendence are the role model Wilson and Shirin, a nice woman that the hero helps without any mean, pecuniary, or sexual interest, only out of the immense kindness of his heart.