Zoltán Kamondi was born in 1960 in Budapest. After finishing his studies at the Faculty of Art, he went on to get a degree in film directing at the Academy of Drama and Film, where he graduated in 1988. He has won many awards with his short films at festivals. His greatest success was his examination film KIKI AND THE MALES which won the Best Direction Award at the West-Berlin Short Film Festival.

Between 1986 and 1988 he was a member of the directors' board of BALÁZS BÉLA FILM STUDIO.

In 1987 he was a founding member of the Young Artists' Studio (FMS) revived by Jolán Árvai. He made the studio's first film
THE SUBCONSCIOUS STATION, which was also his diploma film.

In 1989 he worked as a war-correspondent for Japanese and French television and Radio Free Europe during the Romanian revolution. At the same time he worked together with Károly Makk as script writer and co-director.

In 1990 he made his first film PATHS OF DEATH AND ANGELS which was screened in Cannes (Sélection Officielle "Un Certain Regard") and was invited to a number of important festivals (Moscow, Chicago, Tokyo, Ghent, Paris, Orleans). It won the Best Film Music Award in San Remo.

In 1992 he started to work in theatre. In the following year he was a founding member of the Pécs Experimental Workshop. The performance, CRIMES OF THE HEART, which he directed there won four prizes (the Main Prize for the best performance among them) at the Hungarian Theatre Festival.


In 1997 he began shooting THE HUNGARIAN SPECKLED VARIETY,
a documentary series, parts of which have been completed. Critics considered the series one of the most important documentaries of the years after the political changes. One episode won the 1st Prize in the Documentary Category in the MEDIAWAVE INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL in 1995.

In 1994 he started to work in the MISKOLC THEATRE  where he directed SALOME, which also won the Best Leading Actress Award at the Hungarian Theatre Festival and was considered by critics one of the best performances of the year.

In 1996 he founded his own experimental theatre company called Rolling Cult Motel in Miskolc. The performance series TOUCHING EACH OTHER he started has been playing for four years and was very well received both by the profession and the audience. One performance of the series won one of the Main Prizes of the Alternative Theatre Festival in 1999.

In 1996 his video film - GOLDEN DECK-CHAIR was released and it won the Best Direction Award at the 27th Hungarian Film Week, in the following year it also received the Critics' Award for "its innovative dimensions and forms".

In 1998 he studied theatre life in London with the support of the British Council. At the invitation of the Dutch Theatre Institute he participated in the Theatre Festival in Amsterdam.

In the same year, with his own theatre company Rolling Cult Motel, he directed CANDIDE in the THÁLIA THEATRE which received the Critics' Award for "the best musical performance of the season."

In 1999 his feature film THE ALCHEMIST AND THE VIRGIN was released. The film won the Best Independent Feature Award at the Manchester International Film Festival in the US. In Berlin at Prix Europe it was placed fourth. It won the Critics' Award for the Best Cinematography and for the Best Leading Actress. It was invited to film festivals in Alexandria, Boston, Calcutta, Madrid, Dhaka, Vancouver and Porto.

In 2002 he made his third feature film TEMPTATIONS. It was nominated for GOLDEN BEAR  at the Berlin International Film Festival, and officially selected to compete for the Best European Film. It has won many national and international awards at important festivals. This same year he started teaching at the Hungarian Film Academy.

In 2003 he won  a  Béla Balázs Prize.

His most important works:

 

 

KIKI AND THE MALES (1985)
(Short feature film, Academy of Drama and Film)

 

Awards:
 

West Berlin Short Film Festival, Germany
Best Direction Award
American Film Academy, Los Angeles
Nomination for "Student" Oscar

 

 

THE SUBCONSCIOUS STATION (1987-88)
(Unfinished feature film, BBS-FMS-Objektív Studio)

 

 

PARALEL  METABOLISM (1989)
(Documentary-feature film, FMS)

 

 

PATHS OF DEATH AND ANGELS (1991)
(Feature film, Budapest Film Studio - MTV Studio 1)

 

"Visually sumptuous and mystifying work... Kamondi seems to be treading Fellini's territory with this inventive, disquieting film."

Variety, Los Angeles
(June 17, 1991)

 

"An art film close to André Breton's world. Full of anguish, captivating and tragic. A creative film about the subconscious. Full of emotions, but not sentimental. Powerful and uncompromising."

L. Manceau, Cinema '91, Cannes

 

"An experiment worthy of Tarkovsky. A flow of distracted, occasionally lyric pictures - it has nothing to do with the traditional narrative style. A futurist gallop."

Positiv '91, Paris
(no. 365-366)

 

"The writer/director of the film is an unshaven, angry young man (at least he was the last time I saw him) Zoltán Kamondi, who is without doubt brilliant. His wonderful and terrible films are full of sensuality, like Fellini's: don't think of the brothel version. But: lights causing gooseflesh, objects wantonly revealing themselves, captivatingly silky stones. And lovely fat women blissfully covered in mud, or rattling aluminium buckets, the reality of which makes you shudder." (...)
...He smothers you and knocks you out. You long for Fellini, all of whose magic makes you see life as wonderful. The enchanter Kamondi keeps calling your attention to how real destruction is, how it is present in everything. The end of the film doesn't help in this: after all that grey, filth, muck and twilight the glorious blues and glistening greens, the golden of the early morning sunshine. Fellini - Italian, Kamondi - Hungarian. Their cells are steeped in joie de vivre, their cells are steeped in anxiety..."

Éva F. Virág, Élite,
(November, 1991)

 

Awards:


Cannes Film Festival
Official selection
"Un certain regard"
San Remo Film Festival
Best Music Award

 

Invitations:


Tokyo Film Festival
Chicago Film Festival
Moscow Film Festival
Orléans Film Festival
Ghent Film Festival
Paris Film Festival

 

 

CRIMES OF THE HEART (1993-1994)
(Theatre performance, National Theatre Pécs,
Experimental Workshop)

 

"Crimes of the Heart is really good, primarily due to its professional accuracy. But this is not what holds the stage. It fascinates us by showing that this perfection is already a caricature of a faultless world, faultless characters, unbearable for real, living people. I suppose this is also sensed by the eternally naive viewer who is not very interested in professional virtues and specialities. Moreover, he may even identify with it fully."

László Zappe, Theatre
(October 1994)

 

Awards:


National Theatre Festival 1994, Hungary
Best Performance Award
Best Leading Actress Award
Best Set Design Award
Best Costumes Award

 

 

THE HUNGARIAN SPECKLED VARIETY I-XII. (1993-2002)
(Video portraits, MTV Opal-Aster Film )


"For the most part it is black and white, roughly cut, sometimes seconds before and after the slate, bloopers and upsets often remain in the final version. The main credit logo recalls a current political programme of twenty years ago. Slipping into this most feigned genre, the director created an iridescent representation of the human character. "Every man is a well, you get dizzy if you lock into him." Büchner says. We often feel dizzy sampling The Hungarian Speckled Variety."

Klara Muhi, World of Film
(August, 1996)

 

Awards:


MEDIAWAVE INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, Hungary
1st Prize in the Documentary Category

 

 

SALOME (1994)

(Theatre performance, NATIONAL THEATRE MISKOLC)


"Oscar Wilde imagined the stage of Salome in red, yellow and purple. Zoltán Kamondi sees our century in black and white. The colourful veils fell off long ago. He sees it as a menacing, hectic documentary which, using an ancient story as a starting point, pans around reality in a lyrical composition. Kamondi does not examine our feeling of guilt when he presents us with a heap of human bodies (recalling Auschwitz), he is much more sceptical. He shows us our present with nightmarish anxiety to make us see what is in front of our eyes."

Katalin Kállay, Theatre
(March, 1995)

 

"In the end, the age-worn Salome puts Jokanan's emaciated head into a plastic bag. In our eroded, ratty era, this is how the ritual story ended. The play will not be seen by too many people due to its technical effects, it cannot be moved away from Miskolc. We should remember it, though. It was an especially good performance. One of the best in the season."

Tamás Koltai, Life and Literature
(September, 1995)

 

Awards:
 

National Theatre Festival 1995, Hungary
Best Leading Actress Award

 

 

GOLDEN DECK-CHAIR (1995-96)

(Television play, MTV FMS studio)

 

"Golden Deck-chair is a wonderful work of art. Very mature, especially as regards form, while it does not introduce anything new, on the contrary. It presents well known topics and locations (misery in the high rise housing estate like in Béla Tarr's film), and situations (a worn-out couple tormenting each other) in a form (television play) that has been so often used it has become ridiculous. It is a stylistic exercise, coarse and unsparing.
(...)
The most interesting thing about it is the way he uses video effects and strange settings. The computer blue sea that appears in the windows of the black and white flat, the corridors painted over with blue paint, the life size cardboard cut-outs of the main characters. All these signify the myth, but since they are just as hopelessly ugly as the original, they profane the myth. However, tearful joy, even beauty radiates from it all."

Klára Muhi, World of Film
(April, 1996)

 

Awards:


27th Hungarian Film Week,
short film category
Best Direction Award
Hungarian Film Critics' Choice '97
Award for "its innovative dimensions and forms"
Hungarian Television
Artistic Award given to the director, cinematographer,
set designer, costume designer, composer, editor and sound
engineer

 

 

HALL CULT MOTEL (1996-97)

(Experimental Workshop of the NATIONAL THEATRE MISKOLC, with Zoltán Kamondi as Artistic Director)

 

"The Hall Cult Motel is an innovative and exciting concept that gives a unique possibility to directors to answer questions raised by each other..."

Geraldine Collings,
Battersea Art Centre, London

 

In the Motel:
TOUCHING EACH OTHER 0-9 (performance series presented by the HALL CULT MOTEL)

 

"There is the possibility for a spiritual encounter, the power and warmth of a handshake in it. Because the cohesive and attractive power of the series devised by Zoltán Kamondi was not the warmth of the pen of sheep where we belong together but the possibility to find each other (and ourselves). The freedom of the play fascinated us."

Katalin Szűcs, Critical Pages
(June, 1997)

 

"Those who saw the whole series got a taste of the dimensions and forms of the contemporary theatre experiments. Regardless of their judgement and opinion, the performances may have widened their ideas about theatre."

Theatre
(August, 1997)

 

 

MÉDEIA VARIATIONS (1997)

(Theatre performance by the Hall Cult Motel, Miskolc)

 

"With his Medeia concept Kamondi touches upon new areas of theatre. In Hungary even independent theatre groups use fixed texts. For the actors it must be a great challenge that Kamondi continued to rehearse the play even after the premiere and he keeps on changing the play performance by performance. The end result is such a jewel of acting essence, it is so tense and it is built up in its details with such great attention that it is very rare even in this country so full of brilliant actors."

Michael Mans, Theater der Zeit, Berlin,
(July-August, 1997)

 

"...It is the repeated clashes between the every day level and the elevated myth, the naturalistically reduced language and dramatic poetry, redundancy and eloquence that gives a dissonant charm to the play."

Tamás Koltai, Life and Literature
(1997)

 

 

ROLLING CULT MOTEL (1997-99)
(Experimental theatre group in Budapest,
with Zoltán Kamondi as Artistic Director)

 

"Besides a permanent openness towards new encounters, Rolling Cult Motel promises the opportunity for a continuous and intensive personal presence reflecting upon itself and the theatre industry."

Ádám Tábor, Critical Pages
(1998)

 

In the Motel:
TOUCHING EACH OTHER 10-12
(A series of performances by the ROLLING CULT MOTEL in the Merlin and IBS theatres)

 

"The concept of Touching Each Other gives a new opportunity to go beyond the repertory theatre without throwing the theatre as well as the repertoire out of the window."

Ádám Tábor, Critical Pages

 

Awards:


Alternative Theatre Festival Budapest, Hungary
Main Prize of Budapest to
the Best Performance for
"THE FORGOTTEN DREAM",
an episode of  TOUCHING EACH OTHER

 

 

CANDIDE (1998)

(Theatre performance of the Rolling Cult Motel in the THÁLIA THEATRE)

 

"If three people have talent then the task that seems impossible to solve can be solved. Voltaire's Candide, a story that was not intended or born for the stage, a surrealistic thesis novel can be staged. The three talented people are István Eörsi, the writer, László Melis, the composer and Zoltán Kamondi, the director. All three of them are great team members, they can cooperate wonderfully serving the public interest of the performance. And all three understand Voltaire perfectly.
...Eörsi and Melis' work is organically complemented by Zoltán Kamondi's picaresque direction that reminds us of the Commedia dell'arte. The way he controls calamities, earthquakes and slaughters is fascinating. He moves his few actors in a way that they look like a crowd. And he does all that almost without any tool or instruments. There is hardly any set but restrain is the greatest virtue of the performance."

Noémi Marik, Critical Pages
February, 1992

 

"Kamondi touches the message with a lucky hand, he does not preach, he even allows the viewer not to take him really seriously and get swept off his feet by a series of adventures that are built upon one another. These scenes, each a whole on its own, alive with a thousand - not l'art pour l'art - ideas, together with all the punch-lines and gags make the political-philosophical scepticism of the creators more comprehensible. The grotesque wax works radiating credible historical pessimism of the Rákóczi scene is especially remarkable..."

Balázs Urbán, Theatre
(September, 1999)

 

Awards:


Hungarian Theatrical Critics' Choice '98
Award for "the best musical performance of the season"

 

 

THE ALCHEMIST AND THE VIRGIN (1997-99)

(Feature film, Új Dialóg Film Studió-MTV FMS-Eurofilm Studio-tor Film Poland-Artcam, Paris)

 

"Kamondi's shocking professionalism, and the acting of the protagonists are a heart-warming experience in The Alchemist and the Virgin."

György Báron, House of Day
(January, 1999)

 

"Kamondi must have kept repeating Macbeth's lines: 'l dare do all that may become a man. Who dares do more is none'. He dreamed up a wildly romantic story about an alchemist obsessed with trying and finding the secret of making gold, a professional gladiator and a girl who functions as the fifth element, a magnetic witch. Miracles and nightmares follow one another, the whole thing is very gothic, hectic, artificial and farcical at the same time and prone to falling apart. One of the miracles it performs is that at times it does come together while images and scenes that we will never forget shine through it."

Erzsébet Bori, World of Film
(April, 1999)

 

"So everything is fine and all these fine details evoke so much sympathy in the, let's face it, slightly prejudiced viewer, just like when a guide shows one the tricky death traps of an Egyptian pyramid: material, work, magic and art - all of which were born to help the otherworldly problems of a not everyday Ego to straighten themselves out."
Tibor Hirsch, World of Film
(November, 1999)

 

Awards:
Hungarian Film Critics ' Choice 2000
Best Cinematography Award
Hungarian Film Critics ' Choice 2000
Best Leading Actress Award
10th International Film Festival, Manchester, Independent Film Category
Best Feature Award

The evaluation of the jury:

The story is a quite good adaptation of the Philosophers' tone legend with well-constructed characters. The camera work and lighting are excellent. Original and special atmospheres can be seen.
Its world of sounds is well composed and unified. Each actor solves his/her task with excellent professionalism with wonderful and special characterisation. While visually it holds the attention of the viewer all through, the middle part concentrates on the development of characters and allows the story to get out of hand but then picks up again with memorable images. The scenes directly dealing with alchemy are so convincing that they could have been given more emphasis.
The film is also highly entertaining.


Prix Europa/Berlin
4th Place
(out of 25 films from 19 countries)

 

Invitations:


Boston International Film Festival
Alexandria International Film Festival
Calcutta International Film Festival
9th Experimental Film Festival, Madrid
6th Dhaka International Film Festival
Floating Film Festival, Vancouver
20th Porto Film Festival

 

 

THE HUNGARIAN SPECKLED VARIETY XIII (2001)
"ROADS IN FURUGY"
(Video portraits, MTV Opal-Aster Film)

 

 

TEMPTATIONS (1999-2002)

(Feature film, Nextreme Film - Honeymood Films - Fivinvest Ltd.)

 

"Kísértések or Temptations has been one of the most pleasant surprises of this year's Berlin film festival so far. Directed by Zoltán Kamondi, this low-budget Hungarian movie, which makes substantial use of non-professional actors, and is shot in both black and white and colour, explores the attempts of Roma and non-Roma to live together and compliment each other's lives..."

Kate Connolly, The Guardian
(February 13, 2002)

 

"Ancient traditions clash with the contemporary world of a restless young Magyar in Temptations, a consistently intriguing and ultimately provocative film that marks a change of pace for director Zoltán Kamondi, whose previous film was as thin in plot and structure as it was visually lush. A solid contender in this year's Berlin competition, this pic is likely to create a mild controversy because of its approach to the character of a 10-year-old Romany girl with magical powers and a fierce attachment to the film's central character, a 19-year-old misfit. Some export potential looms.
(...)
Writer-director Kamondi explores these intriguing themes in a well-structured, sharply focused film sparked by the new twist given to the familiar story of an angry young man in conflict with society and his family.
(...)
...the characters of son and mother are firmly rooted in reality, so that Julianna Kovacs's wild child (as the gypsy girl) emerges as a quite outlandish creation with her older-than-her-years attitude to sex and relationships. A scene in which she attempts to get Marci to make love to her is both disturbing, given her age, and yet oddly beautiful. And Kamondi is careful to keep the action well on the right side of public acceptability."

David Stratton, Variety
(February 17, 2002)

 

"Hungary is back in the Berlinale competition after a long absence, with an entry that attempts to cover as many of the burning Magyar issues of the hour as its 88-minute running time will allow. So many, in fact - from generation gap to future options for the youths, from gypsy magic to hi-tech witchcraft, from the wonders of the new economy to its victims - that is sometimes browses through rather than deals with them. This said, there is no doubting Zoltan Kamondi's gifts as a distinctively personal director, with a flair both for visuals and working with actors.
(...)
Frequently using hand-held camera in documentary fashion, Kamondi often goes into huge dramatic close-ups and inserts into the black-and-white narrative, which he sees as objective reality, a number of colour sequences (subjective reality). His experience in the theatre is evident in remarkable performances...
(...)
...Temptations's positive qualities are bound to secure it a solid festival career with potential art house interest."

Dan Fainaru,
Screen International
(February 12, 2002)

 

"...Temptations is an extremely likeable chamber play shot in black and white about a predicable calamity. It is very dry, very sincere, very angry and sometimes very amusing, at the same free of all unnecessary trappings.

elk, Die Welt
(February 12, 2002)

 

"Kamondi is happy to tell stories, he is a "theatre" man and in Temptations he has been more successful in combining fantasy with reality than previously. This film in a good season would still count among the best. Love and conflict, the luxury of bizarre novelties, and the aggressive mood of the prison, of which the young man gets more than his full share, the uninhibited behaviour of a successful person and the wicked look from below, everything crops up and is put effectively onto the screen."

Hans-Jörg Rother,
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
(February 21, 2002)

 

"The director's new film, Temptations, which - on account of its web of problems and train of thought - could have been given the title "Paths of Life and Demons", is a more mature and balanced piece of work. Although the previous motifs do surface, its message, style and structure represents a different quality. A characteristic confession. A panorama with a disturbing effect. There are no swirling eddies of (intentional) mist. It is its hypnotic strength that produces an impression on the spectator. In other words the critic who was unable to tune in to Kamondi's earlier frequency can now express appreciation for the result of this drama of destiny that has toured several international forums."

József  Veres, Népszabadság

 

"Kamondi's style is unmistakably individual, on the other hand he is a real team player: the composer is once again László Melis, the DOP Gábor Medvigy - the familiar group. Everything that deserves praise in the film - and there is plenty - is to their merit as well. And to the actors' merit. (...) Humour wasn't the strength of Kamondi's two previous feature films, although we know from The Hungarian Speckled Variety that this approach is not remote from him. A nightmarish, end-of-the-world irony pervades his remarkable new opus under whose passionless storytelling and acrid humour the drama smoulders slowly and ominously."

György Báron, Life and Literature

 

"Not only are the characters life-like, the scenes of the film also work out terrifically. Temptations is full of humour despite weighty existential problems pending in the background. The onion-peeling scene when Marci haggles with the Gypsies for the little girl is unforgettable and so is his bow-tied professor eating pastries all the time. Another memorable moment is when the father, surprised by nothing, takes on his son in the seedy co-op office to work for him without any wage. I could continue the list of these cool, effortless jokes seen so far only in the films of young directors. The rays of the out of the ordinary barely shine through this story of path-seeking that is bound with a thousand threads to reality. And the reason for the brightness of this shine is that it is penetrating a plot basically rooted in reality. Alongside the simplifying of the story its visual world has also become less taut and more everyday. Gábor Medvigy's unparalleled sense of composition comes across remarkably both in the beautifully lit black and white pictures and in the colour hand-held camera shots that get closer to the heroes.
(...)
Temptations is a well-conceived film effectuated at a high standard; a real leap in Kamondi's career."

Lóránt Stöhr,
magyar.film.hu, Hungary

 

"The film is a real tale, starting with the well-known once upon a time, ending magically although logically, with magic forces in its best moments
(...)
The well-conceived stylization of the film successfully welds the everyday and the other-worldly, the extremes of the real and absurd alternatives. Temptations remains an easy flowing, but not easy film in spite of the sombre, sometimes drastic details.
(...)
(...) The heroes are wildly romantic types, eccentric, deviant figures with magical talent, they are led by their passions, but Temptations isn't lost in wildly romantic extremities. One of the merits of the play is the excellent performers - Julianna Kovács and Marcell Miklós are outstanding. And even more important is the plot. The story itself.

(...) Whether maybe giving in to tension, or due to external pressure, Zoltán Kamondi has produced a strong story, and this is to the film's advantage. (...)

Temptations has every chance of being retained in one's memory. "

Pál Békés, World of Film
(April, 2002)

 

Awards:


52nd Berlin International Film Festival
Golden Bear Nominee
European Film Academy
Officially selected to compete for the Best European Film
33rd Hungarian Film Festival, Budapest
Best Director
Best Cinematographer
Best Actor

'Love is Folly' Bulgarian International Film Festival - Varna
Jury's Special Prize for its excellent cinematic value
23rd International Camera Festival Manuki Brothers - Macedonia
Bronze Camera
The 8th Pyongyang International Film Festival - North Korea
Best Cinematography
Hungarian Film Critics' Choice 2003
Best Scriptwriter Award

 

Invitations:


Berlinale, Berlin, Germany
Minnesota, USA
Young European Cinema- International Film Festival, Torun, Poland
Seattle International Film Festival, USA
Shanghai International Film Festival, China
Moscow International Film Festival, Russia
L Dahlonega International Film Festival,
Atlanta, USA
Manchester International Film Festival, Vermont, USA
East of West Section- Karlowy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic
Wine Country Film Festival, California, USA
Palics
World Greats Section- Montreal International Film Festival, Canada
Love is Folly Film Festival, Varna, Bulgaria
8th Pyongyang Film Festival, North Korea
Haifa International Film Festival, Israel
Bucharest Film Festival, Romania
23rd International Camera Festival
Manuki Brothers, Macedonia
Athens-Panorama Film Festival, Greece
Denver Film Festival, USA
Sevilla Film Festival, Spain
Ljubljana International Film Festival, Slovenia
Los Angeles Film Week, USA
Tirgu Mures AlterNative, Romania
Ankara International Film Festival, Turkey
Tallin Black Nights, Estonia
Bratislava International Film Festival, Slovakia
Brasov- Hungarian Film Days, Romania
Palm Springs Film Festival, USA
Turku Film week, Finland
Prague-FEBIOFEST, Czech Republic
Brno, Ostrava, Czech Republic
Bergamo
Cleveland International Film Festival, USA
20th Annual Minneapolis International Film Festival, USA
Portobello Film Festival London, UK
Seoul Net Film Festival, South Korea
Festival of Festivals in Kiev, Ukraine
Eureka Screening in Skopje, Macedonia
Cinemateque Quebecoise Film Week, Montreal, Canada
Hungarian Film Week, Ottawa, Canada
Cinemateque Ontario Film Week, Toronto, Canada
Europalia, Warsaw, Poland
Pacific Cinemateque Film Week, Vancouver, Canada
Tallin, Tartu, Helsinki
Munich Film Week, Germany

Blue Sky International Film Festival, Las Vegas, USA