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Fade to Black: Béla Tarr, the Anti-Mystic

Not yet thirty, the Hungarian director Béla Tarr was already making a name for himself both at home and abroad. During the late 1970s and early 1980s his early features earned prizes at film festivals west of the Iron Curtain; in Hungary, however, he remained a marginal figure as the regime did not take kindly to his films’ openly dissenting spirit. This rendered it increasingly difficult for him to make films in his native country and following the independently funded Damnation, he moved to West Berlin, only returning after the dissolution of the Eastern bloc. Upon his return, Tarr got to work on a project that had been gestating for a decade: the 432-minute Satantango, which was released in 1994 and became a cult sensation among cinephiles. The resulting recognition, together with the enthusiastic endorsement of his work by prominent peers such as Susan Sontag and Gus van Sant, turned the forever uncompromising,

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