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by Stefan Ludwig

grade: 7

There is no need, in Angry Buddha, for too many captions to illustrate the situation, just as any directorial virtuosity would be totally unnecessary. Stefan Ludwig has decided to show us reality as it is and as he sees it, uncensored, with all its moments of joy and togetherness, and its moments of frustration and discouragement.

Towards a better future

India, it is known, is the birthplace of Buddhism. Similarly, the Roma are also originally from India. And even if, at first glance, these seem to us to be two realities that do not have much in common, few people know that for some years now, in a remote province of Hungary, there has been a small school with a Buddhist orientation that aims to facilitate the integration of young Roma into society, offering them the opportunity to study and thus also obtain a diploma. In this regard, documentary filmmaker Stefan Ludwig, in his Angry Buddha, observed this reality at close quarters, following, at the same time, the personal stories of some of the young people who used to study there. This documentary – made in 2016 and premiered at the Diagonale 2016 – was included, following the cancellation of the Diagonale 2020, in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished.

For about three years – from 2012 to 2014 – Stefan Ludwig followed this unique reality closely, creating a very intimate and confidential atmosphere and feeling, even if only for a short time, that he too was part of that world where, with a lot of difficulty, the goals are pursued. If, therefore, the 19-year-old Ferenc – already married and father of a little girl – has decided to aspire to a better future by going back to school, he soon has to leave school to look for work, even ending up working as a street artist in Germany. On the other hand, in the meantime, we see his peer Amal, not really suited for study, who thanks to this school has been able to discover her potential in the art world. Finally, young Monika wants nothing more than to go to university. In order to do so, she will have to obtain very good grades in her baccalaureate exam. But will this really be the chance to get a more stable and secure job?

Stefan Ludwig tells us, in his Angry Buddha, the stories of each of them, focusing mainly also on the exemplary figure of János Orsós, the founder of the school, who, together with his other colleagues, fights every day to ensure that the school is not closed according to the decisions of the national parties, which are increasingly oriented towards a policy of racism and discrimination.

Stefan Ludwig’s camera, for its part and with a Zavattini-like manner, is immediately close to the reality he has decided to show: from time to time we hear the director’s voice interacting with the protagonists, while at the same time we observe them in their daily activities, in their games and during their lessons. There is no need for too many captions in Angry Buddha to illustrate the situation, just as any directorial frills would be totally unnecessary. The director has decided to show us reality as it is and as he sees it, uncensored, with all its moments of joy and togetherness, and its moments of frustration and discouragement (as when, for example, one of the school teachers receives death threats through an anonymous e-mail). Everything makes for a portrait of this particular reality that is as exhaustive and honest as possible, in which the director not only proves to be an observer of the facts, but also – and above all – an integral part of that small world. And even though, even today, the living conditions of young people from this area are by no means easy, the documentary – although extremely realistic and objective – nevertheless ends with a good touch of optimism and hope.

Original title: Der zornige Buddha
Directed by: Stefan Ludwig
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 2016
Running time: 98’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Stefan Ludwig
Cinematography: Thomas Beckmann, Stefan Ludwig
Produced by: Metafilm, Tellux Film

Info: the page of Angry Buddha on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Angry Buddha on iMDb; the website of Angry Buddha