BY DIMITRI EIPIDES
Drawing inspiration from the cold-blooded murders of six Romani families between 2008 and 2009 — whose houses were firebombed with Molotov cocktails, and the residents then shot by the band of unknown killers as they ran outside to escape the flames — Just the Wind depicts the last hours in the lives of the sixth group of victims, a family whose dreams of emigration are suddenly, horribly destroyed.
As the dawn breaks, Mari (Katalin Toldi) and her two children crawl out of bed to face another day. Working as a cleaning lady, tethered to her ailing father and holding on to the hope of an impending move to Toronto that stubbornly refuses to materialize (her husband is already there, hopping to secure passage for the rest of the family),
Mari is a hard-working woman in a hostile environment. Mari's daughter Anna (Gyöngyi Lendvai) is studious and does her best to stay out of trouble (to the extent of walking away from a schoolmate's potential rape), seeking solace and reassurance from a Skype session with her absent father.
Her younger son Rio (Lajos Sárkány) ditches school to pilfer supplies from neighbours in order to outfit his secret hideout, which serves as his buffer against the terrors of everyday life. And that terror is encroaching ever closer: even as the Romani community desperately spreads neighbourhood watches over the countryside on the lookout for the roving bands of death squads, the shadow of doom begins to fall over Mari and her family.
Stripping his narrative down to its bare bones and slowly accumulating tension through an ominous sound design and carefully placed bursts of music, Fliegauf builds a memorably menacing atmosphere.
But it's the performances of his actors — all of them non-professionals recruited from rural Romani settlements — that truly bring the horror home, illustrating the untiring will of a people naturally geared towards survival — which makes their characters' foretold fates all the more tragic and unforgettable.
BY Dimitri Eipides
BACKGROUND ON THE FILM: