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50th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

Tuesday, May 8, 2007
9:05 p.m. Fresh Air
Ágnes Kocsis (Hungary, 2006)

(Friss levegö). For Viola and her teenage daughter Angela, "family time" means silently watching a favorite weekly television show. Away from the comfort of their Budapest apartment couch, these women take dramatically divergent paths in Ágnes Kocsis's beautiful and hypnotic tale of love and longing. As a subway bathroom attendant, Viola spends her days collecting coins and scrubbing toilets. At night she attends singles events where she comes face to face with sad, aging bachelors who don't interest her. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Angela dreams of a life as a famous fashion designer. Creative, cool, and focused on finding a new life, she and her best friend Martina wander the streets searching for excitement amid the ordinary. After Angela's adventurous hitchhiking trip and Viola's unfortunate encounter at work, the alienated mother and daughter are brought together in unexpected ways. As the film quietly details the daily rituals of this tiny family unit, Kocsis consistently focuses on the most intriguing, humorous, and profound moments of each scene. From the fabulously colored air fresheners that Viola has meticulously arranged in her minuscule bathroom office to Angela's obsessive window-opening ritual, Fresh Air plays like a silent film, using stunning imagery and a still camera to uncover character motivation and depth without unnecessary action, dialogue, or exposition. With the eye of a painter and the heart of a poet, Kocsis crafts a wonderfully poignant story about the surprising connections between a mother and daughter.

—Brendan Peterson

• Written by Kocsis, Andrea Roberti. Photographed by Ádám Fillenz. With Izabella Hegyi, Júlia Nyakó, Anita Turóczi, Zoltán Kiss. (109 mins)