A Brave Visualization of Existence

in 20th Zagreb Dox International Documentary Film Festival

by Hamed Soleimanzadeh

The Critics’ Prize at the 20th edition was chosen for its compelling 12-year exploration of Sanyi and his rites of passage from a rowdy street kid in Budapest to a disillusioned young adult. Here, Hamed Soleimanzadeh also highlights how Co-directors Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész portrayed the bustling streets as an existential experience.

In the opening scenes of KIX, the viewers are greeted with a powerful statement from one of the directors: “All people are special.” While this assertion rings true, the documentary soon embarks on a journey to explore the depths of this statement, revealing that some individuals possess a uniqueness that transcends the ordinary. As the narrative unfolds, we traverse different locations, encountering a pair of people with diverse backgrounds and desires. Yet, amidst the sea of faces, the directors are driven to seek out the most exceptional among them.

In the bustling streets of Budapest, Hungary, the filmmakers skillfully utilize innovative editing techniques to capture the essence of the urban landscape. Through fast cuts and jump cuts, the viewer is swiftly transported into the vibrant and dynamic world of the street kids. These editing choices create a sense of urgency and excitement, mirroring the frenetic energy of life on the streets. Amidst this whirlwind of activity, chalk lines serve as a visual motif, guiding the camera on its journey through the streets and squares of the city. It is within this chaotic approach that we encounter Sanyi, a central figure whose presence resonates with raw authenticity. Sanyi, along with his friends, embodies the spirit of the streets, propelled forward by the primal force of libido. In the context of KIX, libido manifests as a potent force that propels Sanyi and his cohorts through the challenges and adventures of their daily lives. It is the primal urge for survival and fulfillment that guides their actions and shapes their interactions with the world around them. Freudian theory suggests that the human psyche is driven by both conscious and unconscious desires, with repressed thoughts and emotions exerting a powerful influence on behavior. In the case of Sanyi and his peers, these suppressed desires may manifest in various ways, influencing their decisions and shaping the trajectory of their lives. As the narrative unfolds, viewers are invited to delve deeper into the psychological landscape of the characters, exploring the hidden motivations and internal conflicts that drive their actions. Sanyi’s family dynamic adds another layer of complexity to the narrative. His grandmother represents an older generation, while the intoxicated father and resilient mother provide contrasting perspectives on parenthood. Additionally, his sister, afflicted with Dunn’s syndrome, adds a touch of innocence and intelligence to the mix.

In this intricate story, the camera serves as an intrepid explorer, delving deep into the lives of its characters, tracing the interconnected threads that bind them together. With each frame, it seeks out connections, weaving together the disparate strands of their existence into a cohesive narrative. Yet, amidst the chaos and complexity of human experience, one voice rings out with a bold declaration: “I can do whatever I want.” In these words, spoken by Sanyi, lies the essence of existentialism, a philosophical undercurrent that flows through the heart of the documentary. Existentialism, with its emphasis on individual agency and the inherent freedom of choice, serves as a guiding principle, shaping the course of Sanyi’s journey and the narrative trajectory of the film itself. At its core, existentialism posits that individuals are responsible for their actions and choices, and free to determine their path in life. This theme reverberates throughout KIX as Sanyi grapples with the consequences of his decisions, navigating the murky waters of adolescence with a sense of autonomy and self-determination. Yet, with freedom comes responsibility, and Sanyi’s journey is fraught with the weight of his actions. The camera captures moments of triumph and reckoning, as Sanyi confronts the repercussions of his choices and grapples with the complexities of human existence. Through it all, existentialism serves as a lens through which to examine the intricacies of human nature, inviting viewers to ponder the existential questions that lie at the heart of the human experience. What does it mean to be free? What is the nature of responsibility? And how do our choices shape our destiny? Yet, there is a glimmer of hope as the directors express their intent to revisit Sanyi in the future. The closing scenes, juxtaposed with glimpses of Sanyi’s childhood, leave viewers pondering the fate of this complex character.

With KIX, Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész have crafted a compelling exploration of existence, blending elements of adventure, introspection, and social commentary. Through Sanyi’s story, they delve into the intricacies of human nature, inviting viewers to reflect on the choices we make and the paths we ultimately choose. As the credits roll, the fate of Sanyi remains uncertain, leaving us eagerly anticipating the next chapter in his journey.

By Hamed Soleimanzadeh
Edited by Steven Yates