Virtual Cinema | Hungary’s Pick for Oscar Consideration: “Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time” February 9, 2021

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head).
I should have loved a thunderbird instead.”

This stanza from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mad Girl’s Love Song” ponders the futility of falling in love with an imaginary person and opens this new film—a mysterious love story. Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time is Hungary’s official submission for Best International Feature at the 2021 Academy Awards. 

Mind-Boggling Mystery
Preparations is as enigmatic as it is picturesque. Márta (Natasa Stork) is preparing for a momentous rendezvous. After living for 20 years in the United States, she plans to reconnect in Budapest with János (Viktor Bodó), whom she met at a medical conference. They choose to get together at the Liberty Bridge—one of the most impressive sights in the Hungarian capital and a powerful representation of the connection between places and lovers alike. Márta excitedly awaits János, but he never appears. When she confronts him at his workplace, he claims they have never met.

The Tale Unfolds
Instead of cutting her losses and returning to the States to continue her successful neurosurgery career, Márta remains in Budapest. The tale unfolds through her discreet but persistent observations of the man she loves and her conversations with her therapist. She is not only obsessed with the idea of true love, she also has a professional curiosity about the possibility that her own mind could be playing tricks on her.

Dreamy Hungarian Cinema
Director Lili Horvát essentially tells her story backward, a device she also uses in her previous feature, The Wednesday Child, where the entire film is a flashback explaining how the protagonist ends up in a police car in the opening scene. Horvát now joins other compelling visual storytellers such as Ildikó Enyedi (On Body and Soul) and Kornél Mundruczó (Pieces of a Woman) in cementing the recent rise of dreamy Hungarian cinema.

• Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time / WATCH HERE Your ticket ($9.99) supports the MFAH and provides a 3-day pass to the film. SEE THE TRAILER

About the Author
Eszter Simor, a Hungarian-born film scholar and critic, is a visiting assistant professor at Sam Houston State University.

Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lois Chiles Foundation; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.