Ádám Miklós, the young director whose film even the Dalai Lama knows of
When did you decide that you would like to be a film director?
I have always known that I would like to be an artist, even at school science subjects never really attracted me. During my secondary school studies, I got the opportunity to go to Austria as an exchange student and in the end, I stayed there until graduation. At the time, I was a keen writer and I decided that I would learn to write in German at such a high level that nobody would be able to tell that it is not my mother tongue. Unfortunately, I was forced to realise that it would not work. Those days I was living in a flatshare and when one of our flatmates was moving out, we decided to make a film for him as a goodbye present. It went down really well and it was great to see the effect that it had. I immediately realised the beauties of film making: the creativity of it, the team work inherent in it and that it is a universal language that everybody understands.
You did not return to Hungary after your graduation either...
That’s right. My big dream was Scotland, so I decided that I would go to university there. Of course, it was not as easy as it sounds, because first of all, I had to collect the money that I needed as a start. Therefore, I moved to Ireland and during the year I spent there, I worked as a baby sitter, a waiter and as an assistant in a call centre, often all of these at the same time and in the meantime, I was busy filling out my applications for university. It was not easy having to look after myself all of a sudden, but the international environment really stimulated me. Then I got the letter that I was accepted at St Andrews.
You went to the university where Prince William and Kate studied as well, didn’t you?
Yes. St Andrews is situated in the South-eastern part of Scotland, it’s a small town on the coastline surrounded by picturesque scenery. The university itself is the oldest all over Scotland and together with Oxford and Cambridge, it is among the best universities of the United Kingdom. I loved studying there, the atmosphere is amazing: every second resident is a student coming from one of the more than hundred countries that are represented at the university, which means that you keep bumping into fascinating people and stories. The idea for my first film, The Daughters of Dolma, emerged like that too: a friend of mine told me about Tibetan nuns – a story that captured my attention right away.
Would you tell us a bit about the realisation of the film?
I travelled to India and then on to Kathmandu with a crew of 6. I did not like the idea of boarding the plane in Scotland and arriving in Kathmandu right away and I thought it would be a good idea to travel to Kathmandu from India by bus so that we can undergo a spiritual journey as well. With this in mind, we managed to pick the second most dangerous bus trip in the world, a journey that takes 40 hours, which was probably the biggest challenge of the whole project.
In Kathmandu, we were living with nuns for a month so we were able to get a glimpse into how they spend their everyday lives. We were curious to see how they can adjust spirituality to the modern world. There were a few things we really did not expect, for example, right on the first day, they welcomed us with a tray of Coke and we also found out that the use of mobile phones and Facebook is also quite natural among them. On the other hand, however, in accordance with their vows, they conform to a strict schedule in their everyday lives: they wake up at dawn to pray, they work, they study, they participate in ceremonies and they keep the nunnery in order.
The month I spent there was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I learnt a lot, not only as a director, but also as a human – about happiness, about faith and about relationships between people.
What was the reception of the film like?
To my great pleasure, it was very positive both in Hungary and abroad. In Hungary, at the moment it is on in 10 cinemas; in Budapest, at the Uránia, Puskin and Toldi cinemas. An American distributer also bought the rights, which means that American people will soon be able to watch it in 20 cities all over the country. We have received a lot of invitations for premieres all over the world from the Netherlands to India and because of the film we also had the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama on his tour around Scotland. I still cannot believe that this actually happened! He welcomed us in a room, he asked each of us one by one where we came from and then we talked about the film and he gave us some advice. The positive feedback gave me inspiration to start working on our next film, which got the name of ’The Legacy of Mendla’ and it focuses on Tibetan ways of curing cancer.
What advice would you give to those who have similar ambitions but do not know how to start or have doubts about their abilities?
I think that everything is possible, but only if you really want it and you are willing to make sacrifices. A lot of people think that they really want something, but when it comes to fighting for it, it soon turns out that they are not as dedicated as they thought. I believe in hard work and that when an opportunity comes up, you have to take it. It won’t always be easy, this lifestyle requires a lot of sacrifices, but the feeling that you have when you see your film in the cinema for the first time compensates you for everything!
Written and translated by Judit Molnár