Treasure City (Békeidö)

Friends lie to each other. Husbands lie to their wives, wives lie to their husbands, and both lie to their children. But most of all, everyone lies to themselves, about their pasts, the things they did or failed to do, about who they are and what they want for themselves, where they are and who they have been with, a free ride home with a heavy price attached, a teacher denying recollection of a former student who once confessed his love for her.

Hours late for demonstration which she was supposed to participate in, Dorottya (Fanni Wrochna) is challenged by Kinga (Orsolya Török-Illyés), organiser of a political pressure group who are campaigning against the one-party state which they say is failing the people, telling her that her lies are not only damaging their friendship but are causing problems for other people; how can they bring change if they cannot rely on their own members?

Over soup serenaded with a funeral dirge, distant parents Attila and Erzsébet (Szabolcs Hajdu and Nóra Földeáki) sit with their teenage son who storms out, each blaming the other for the failings in the relationship, while elsewhere in the city Johanna is witness to the confrontations her mother Angéla (Lilla Sárosdi) has first with the girl in the flower shop then with her father who forgot it was their anniversary, he an actor who has just been told by his manipulative director (Árpád Schilling) that his commitment and performance are lacking.

Written and directed by Szabolcs Hajdu, Treasure City (Békeidö, more literally translated as Peace Time) is a tangled web of broken relationships and tangential encounters marked by disappointment and barely concealed resentments, strangers looking to make up the emptiness in their lives by reaching out or lashing out, fuelled by the anti-migrant rhetoric of the radio news reports.

Filmed in Budapest and set across a single night, the camera hovers, an uncertain intruder capturing confessions, flirtations, accusations and recriminations, and occasionally, once a character has been stripped back to their rawest, barest and most vulnerable self, an apology or plea for understanding and acceptance of their failures.

Purposefully abstract and threaded around the barest narrative, a jigsaw of motivation and repercussion, what glitters in the Treasure City is neon reflected in a car window rather than gold, the damage too deep for easy amends and the attacks opening fresh wounds, a commonplace tragedy where the worst monsters lurk in plain sight, vampires who prey on the innocence and fragility of those who still cling to a semblance of hope.

Treasure City is on limited release and streaming digitally from Friday 18th June



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