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Katalin Varga (2009)

2:02 | Trailer
In the beautiful, otherworldly Carpathian Mountains a woman is traveling with a small boy in a horse and cart, looking to punish those who once abused her. For years, Katalin has been ... See full summary »



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Cast overview:
Norbert Tankó ...
Orbán Varga
László Mátray ...
Zsigmond Varga
Tibor Pálffy ...
Antal Borlan (as Tibor Pálfy)
Melinda Kántor ...
Etelka Borlan
Sebastian Marina ...
Gergely's Brother-in-Law
Attila Kozma ...
Enikö Szabó ...
Zsolt Páll ...
Poultry Man
Florin Vidamski ...
Fatma Mohamed ...
Andrea Gavriliu ...
LA Girl
Raluca Sava ...
Szilvia Majláth ...
Singing Girl


In the beautiful, otherworldly Carpathian Mountains a woman is traveling with a small boy in a horse and cart, looking to punish those who once abused her. For years, Katalin has been keeping a terrible secret. Hitchhiking with two men, she was brutally raped in the woods. Although she has kept silent about what happened, she has not forgotten, and her son Órban serves as a living reminder. When her village discovers her secret, Katalin's husband rejects her. With nothing to lose, she is free to seek revenge on the perpetrators. As she puts human faces to horrible acts, she is forced to consider that morality might not be as black and white as she had imagined. Written by Santa Barbara Intl Film Festival

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Crime | Drama | Thriller


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Release Date:

9 October 2009 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Каталин Варга  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film was shot in Romania in July 2006 for around £25,000 with a small crew of 11 people (including transport and catering). Strickland paid everyone on the 17-days-shoot himself, apart from the focus-puller, who agreed to work for free. The whole crew and the actors lived together in an empty house in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains. After the shoot Strickland ran out of money while editing. He approached many UK production companies, but the reaction was always negative because an obscure film by an unknown director, not even in the English language, seemed to put off all UK investors. Only two Romanian producers, Oana Giurgiu and Tudor Giurgiu, paid attention. They saw Strickland's rough cut and came on board as co-producers, providing the funds to make a proper sound-mix and a blow-up from the Super-16mm negatives to 35mm. It was then invited and shown in competition at the '59th Berlin International Film Festival' in 2009 and won the 'Outstanding Artistic Contribution' award for the creative sound design. Without the Romanian producers, the film would never have been properly finished. See more »


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User Reviews

"Masterfully atmospheric, cinematographic and expressionistic..."
3 October 2013 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

English screenwriter, producer and director Peter Strickland's feature film debut which he wrote and co-produced, premiered In competition at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival in 2009, was shot on location in East Transylvania, Romania and is a Romania-UK-Hungary co- production which was produced by Hungarian producers Tudor Giurgiu and Oana Giurgiu. It tells the story about a Catholic woman named Katalin Varga who lives with her husband named Zsigmond and their 11-year-old son named Orbán in a rustic village called Visrek in Romania. Katalin has been keeping a secret from Zsigmond and Orbán for many years, but one day she learns that the secret has been revealed by the only person she told it to. Katalin is almost immediately banished by her spouse who feels betrayed, and with no one else to turn to Katalin sets out on a horse wagon with her son towards a place she left eleven years ago to locate Orbán's real father.

Distinctly and commandingly directed by European filmmaker Peter Strickland, this quietly paced fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the protagonist's point of view, draws a foreboding and increasingly dramatic portrayal of a Hungarian gypsy's voyage towards realizing her bloodlust which she has been dreaming of for the last decade with her child whom she has lied to by telling him that the reason why they have left his father is because his grandmother is severely ill. While notable for it's distinctly atmospheric and naturalistic milieu depictions, distinct cinematography by cinematographer Márk Györi, costume design and versatile and brilliant use of sound, this character-driven and narrative-driven story about redemption, vengeance, consequences and judgment where the animating landscapes and harmonic use of colors contrasts the apocalyptic aura and a mother whom has been scorned for life by an horrific incident only she suffered and still is suffering from prays to her saints for the strength to carry out an unforgivable act, a husband does not forgive, a Romanian criminal named Antal Borlán asks to be forgiven and a child is getting closer to the truth regarding his origins, depicts two internal and merging studies of character and contains a timely score by composers Steven Stapleton and Geoff Cox.

This ethereal, wickedly humorous and mythical road-movie and psychological drama from the late 2000s which is set in villages in Transylvania, Romania and where a man who lives with his wife named Etelka one day meets two strangers, is impelled and reinforced by it's fragmented narrative structure, substantial character development, rhythmic continuity, apparently joyful characters, austere and synoptic dialog, incisive religious undertones, incorporation of genres, comment by Katalin Varga : "I asked the fawn, whose sins have I just died for? He didn't answer and just shed a tear for me." and the poignant acting performances by Hungarian actress Hilda Péter in her debut feature film role and Romanian actor Tibor Pàlffy. A masterfully atmospheric, cinematographic and expressionistic directorial debut which gained, among other awards, the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the 59th Berlin Film Festival in 2009.

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