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Review: MyLifeandMyLife

AuthorMelinda Mátyus
Format140 pages 
PublisherUgly Duckling Presse

Reviewed by  Amanda L. Andrei

American poet Emily Dickinson once wrote to a family friend, “The heart wants what it wants – or else it does not care.” Her observation is apt for the stark and bold world of MyLifeandMyLife by Melinda Mátyus. Translated from the Hungarian by Jozefina Komporaly, this experimental novella from the perspective of a nameless woman in a fraught relationship pushes the boundaries of language by expressing the pressure and violence of doomed love. 

The unnamed narrator becomes involved with a man named Márton who – despite their sexual relationship – she comes to know less and less. She meets him at movies, but they do not touch. For this woman, love is tantamount to the simplest of gestures, and her words cluster together as if whispered or sighed:

“Hold my hand.

I’dliketoholdyourhand, your hand, I’d like your hand.

I don’t have the courage to utter this. 

I’d like my left hand to be in his right hand, so he can touch me with his fingers, first the middle of my palm, then the back of my hand, my wrist, and we canjustwalkandwalk, from one house to another, on and on, then turn around, and around again, cross to the other side, or stay on this side, our side.

To have my lefthandinyourrighthand, that’s what I’d like.” (Mátyus, 15)

Yet her wishes remain unfulfilled. Simplicity is overtaken by excess–in the form of art. In a series of power plays, Márton gifts the narrator expensive paintings that pierce her soul but further separate any semblance of emotional intimacy. “What kind of a world is the one where women fall in love and end up on their own?” she wonders (Mátyus, 16).

It’s a world full of off-colors and uncanny symbols in the artworks, such as blood spurting from a bride and a “whitewashedgrave” (Mátyus, 27). Over the course of a few years, the narrator receives four paintings: Bride’s Door by Helen Frankenthaler, Monitor by Robert Ryman, Running White by Ellsworth Kelly, and Self-Portrait by Paula Modersohn-Becker. It’s notable that the first three paintings are by American abstract artists, while the latter is by a German expressionist painter who was the first woman artist to paint a nude self-portrait (and who died suddenly due to childbirth complications). 

The narrator realizes that with these paintings, “Márton is always sending me messages about love because he is incapable of talking about it” (Mátyus, 37). With contempt, she scratches them (her “signature”) with a red stiletto, a small vent of frustration against male expectations of female domesticity and sexuality. Although the final portrait activates her own self-recognition, her lover senses his loss of control, not only over the materiality of his gifts, but over her personhood. The confrontation is as chilling as the narrator’s interpretations of the paintings. 

Komporaly’s translation renders a sense of fragility and powerlessness into a character who is wrestling with her contempt and the destructive mystery of eros. Komporaly’s translator’s note and András Visky’s afterword provide additional context to Mátyus’s work, noting the influence of theater and similarities to ancient tragedy. Indeed, with her flowing sentences and huddled words, the novella reads as a stage script for a poetically heightened solo show. It is not hard to imagine watching the narrator as a live actor testifying her innermost secrets, her quotidian observations, and her imminent despair. In a world where women fall in love and end up on their own, it is only their own words that will bear witness to their agony.

Reviewer Amanda L. Andrei is a playwright, literary translator, theater critic, and community archivist residing in Los Angeles by way of Virginia/Washington D.C. She writes epic, irreverent plays that center the concealed, wounded places of history and societies from the perspectives of diasporic Filipina women, and she translates from Romanian and Filipino to English. For more information on her work and upcoming events, visit:


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Inventor of the Rubik’s Cube Gets a Movie

A Rubik’s Cube movie and game show are set to be in the works. Learn about the creator and the story behind his famed invention that will soon be on the screen.

The great inventor from South East Europe, Ernő Rubik is the Hungarian mastermind behind the beloved mechanical puzzle that has been sold more than 450M times around the world. He is also a sculptor and architect and was a professor of architecture at the time when he was developing his ingenious creation. Born into a family of creators on July 13, 1944, in Budapest—his mother a poet and his father a flight engineer who designed gliders—it’s no wonder that he himself is a creator. 

The idea for what would become the ‘Rubik’s Cube’ came to Rubik one day in his bedroom at his mother’s apartment in 1974 when he was just 29 years old. He was an instructor of interior design and was teaching his students descriptive geometry, which entails creating two-dimensional models to manually solve and understand three-dimensional geometry problems and their changeable nature. In an effort to help his students better understand these concepts, Rubik began the process of creating something that would be a tangible and movable geometric piece that would display them. 

After seeing the potential of the puzzle being more than just a tool for learning, he patented it in 1975, and it was this initial mobile cube that he constructed by hand out of wooden blocks secured by rubber bands—which took him over a month to solve!—that would lead to the craze that would soon ensue. 

Rubik began selling his “Magic Cube”, originally known as “Buvos Kocka” in Hungary three years later, which soon became a popular toy in the country during the late 1970s. Wanting to expand but being economically limited in Hungary, Rubik demonstrated his “Magic Cube” at toy fairs where he then licensed his puzzle to the U.S. company, Ideal Toys in 1979. From there the puzzle launched globally in 1980 under the rebranded name, “Rubik’s Cube”, and then things really took off. Within the first three years they had already sold over 100M cubes! 

The Rubik’s Cube is a definitive staple of the 1980s, everyone was thoroughly captivated by the entertaining puzzle. Many speedcubing competitions began to pop up, and the first Rubik’s Cube World Championship took place in Budapest on June 5th, 1982. The winner of this initial competition was Minh Thai (USA) who solved the puzzle in 22.95 seconds, and ever since then enthusiasts have been competing to have the quickest solve time—which is now set at 3.47 seconds by Yusheng Du. 

Ernő Rubik has created other three-dimensional geometric puzzles like the Rubik’s Magic, Rubik’s Snake, Rubik’s 360 along with some others, but by far his original creation with over 43 quintillion possible solutions has remained in the spotlight. 

The Rubik’s Cube is such a beloved and well-known piece that has made many appearances in shows, films, and art throughout the years further making it a historical and pop culture classic. Now, Deadline has announced that producer Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment Group will team up with Endeavor Content to produce a feature film on the famed cube. Amritraj will also be the executive producer for a Rubik’s Cube-esque TV game show. 

Following the spark in classic games brought by the success of the Netflix Original, The Queen’s Gambit notes Variety, the Rubik’s Cube will now take the spotlight. A fan of the cube himself, Amritraj is quoted saying, “I’ve had a personal and nostalgic connection to the Rubik’s Cube from my early days in India. I’m thrilled to partner with Endeavor Content and Rubik’s/Smiley and look forward to creating a wonderful and complex Rubik’s universe.” 

There’s still no word as to what exactly the feature will entail or look like, but one thing is for certain, the Rubik’s Cube will continue to be a globally well-known puzzle and toy for generations to come.

If you’d like to know more about Ernő Rubik and his relationship with the cube and the phenomenon, you can read his full interviews in CNA Lifestyle and The New York Times, or for a more in-depth look, you can read his book “Cubed: The Puzzle of Us All”


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Mindset that knows no borders: Interview with Otto Banovits

Online cultural magazine Transatlantic Panorama (TAP) has just published an interview with film director Otto Banovits, whose short film Donkey Xote won Best Short Film Award at SEEfest 2017. He talks about his migratory life that took him from Sweden to Hungary to England and Los Angeles, and how this journey informed his work – and his mindset that knows no borders. Interviewed by Bettina Botos, publisher of TAP, Banovits touches upon many themes including, among others, form vs. content, quotes Hungarian writer István Eörsi, and references the 2016 Oscar-winning film Son of Saul by László Nemes when talking about the fate of refugees. You can read the entire interview here



Gyula Gazdag receives Lifetime Achievement Award in Budapest

We are delighted to share with SEEfest fans the news from Budapest where our festival’s long time friend and renowned filmmaker, educator and mentor Gyula Gazdag was honored at the Budapest International Documentary Festival with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations! 

Gyula Gazdag is a professor at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. He has served as the Artistic Director of the Sundance Filmmakers Lab since 1997. Gazdag has been a creative advisor at the Maurits Binger Film Institute in Amsterdam since 2002, and at the Script Station of the Berlinale Talent Campus since 2006. Daily Variety selected him as one of the ten best film teachers of 2011. His numerous feature films include A Hungarian Fairy Tale, winner of Best Feature Film of the Year of the Hungarian Film Critics and screened at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Stand Off, winner of a Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Festival, Lost Illusions, winner of Best Screenplay at the Hungarian Film Week, Swap, Singing on the Treadmill, which was banned in Hungary for 10 years, and The Whistling Cobblestone, which was banned from foreign exhibition for 12 years. His documentary work includes The Banquet, Package Tour and The Resolution, which was named one of the 100 best documentaries of all time by the International Documentary Association, and The Selection.The latter two were also banned in Communist Hungary for more than a decade.

SEEfest was honored to have Gyula Gazdag on the jury for Best Documentary Film, and as festival advisor and cultural ambassador. Most recently SEEfest presented Gazdag’s influential documentary, Package Tour at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in November 2017. 

The World Traveler: Hungary

SEEfest Staff Writer | September 14, 2014, 11:28 AM


Kohary Winery – Eger, Hungary

Courtesy of Cathy and Carey Roth

We were on a Rick Steves’ Tour of Eastern Europe which included Hungary. Our tour bus pulled into the lovely vineyards and winery building where a fine lunch was served as we sampled the surprisingly good wines of Kohary. A wonderful violinist, Tony, serenaded us with soaring classic and contemporary melodies. The sun was bright and the setting was perfect to enjoy Hungarian country hospitality.









What a surprise! Krakow had by far the best gelato in Eastern Europe! We enjoyed the all-natural flavors and beautiful colors of their luscious creations! Who could resist? The shopkeepers tempted us with their wares overlooking the sidewalks, sometimes more than one per block! They used local summer fruits we wouldn’t find at home. Gelato was our afternoon treat.

In the evening, we dined at a charming outdoor restaurant on the square. Part of the ambiance was that the whole square was lined with such restaurants, so we were one of many couples having a romantic meal. From our table we could see the shiny white horse-drawn carriages going by. The horses were large, strong, and handsome; none of the run-down kind we’ve seen in many cities. We had already taken the carriage ride up to the castle to get the view. Later we walked down the cobblestone street to our hotel.

We also tasted Krakow home cooking at the Milk Bar, a hold-over from Communist days when people needed cheap food. It is still super inexpensive ($4.00 for lunch), and super good: a large roasted chicken leg, mashed potatoes, and choice of salad. Yum!











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