A Commonplace Story

  • 104'
  • Hungary
  • 1975

With the trust gained during the making of Istenmezején, Judit Elek continued to follow the happenings in the small village. What started as a specific investigation into the predicaments and dreams of the younger generation turns into a pars pro toto panorama of People's Hungary in various shades of grey – the economic reforms of 1968 and the cultural liberties supposedly connected to them certainly hadn’t reached vast parts of the nation.

A Commonplace Story is a film more of solidarity and compassion than indignation and anger, of listening more than talking. It is generous and curious, gritty, earthy and tender. As a result, it is maybe not surprising that the film was vilified by certain rank opportunists among the country’s major reviewers, after a public screening in Istenmezején where the villagers finally saw themselves on screen. The subjects were shocked by what the city slickers made of them in the round-table discussion among urban, middle-class film intellectuals following the presentation.

In the spirit of cinéma vérité, Elek had always planned to do a third film that would be about herself and her role in the making of the films, but it never happened.


Olaf Möller

Judit Elek
Country of production
Festival Edition
IFFR 2023
Original title
Egyszerü történet
Production Company
Budapest Filmstúdió
National Film Institute Hungary
Judit Elek
Elemér Ragályi
Zsuzsa Kondor

Programme IFFR 2023

Focus: Judit Elek

Judit Elek (1937) is among world cinema’s most uncompromising figures. Beloved by IFFR founder Huub Bals, yet to this day little known in wider circles, Elek made both fiction and documentary films that are almost brutally personal, reflecting as much the history of her native Hungary as her own trauma-riddled life. International Film Festival Rotterdam is honoured to present the most complete retrospective so far of an auteur whose works and wisdom are needed today as urgently as ever.

Read more about this programme