5 Seasons - a journey

In the shimmering summer heat, Greta, a Jewish Hungarian Mother of three announces that she's terminally ill with cancer. For her children Miki, Bina and Ali, not only their family but their whole world falls apart. They fall like colorful autumn leaves and only pull themselves together and pile themselves up to accompany Greta on her last journey. They are joined by a Hungarian doctor, Melina, who is on her own journey of emancipating herself from her tyrannical father, and also trying to start a family of her own with Miki and Ali’s father, Greta’s ex husband Josef. For one heartbeat death unites them all. But a harsh winter pushes them apart like snowflakes; everybody suffers in their own martyrdom. Bina stops talking and travels to Hungary to connect with her American birth father, the other two despair at the weakness of their father Josef, and the ways in which he treated Greta. Spring finally comes and Melina leads the three siblings to Budapest to seek traces of Greta’s past. Slowly their hibernation ends and family starts to blossom again.

  • Katja Sallay
  • Katja Sallay
  • Marie-Thérèse Ószegi
  • G.A.S.S
  • Katja Sallay
  • Konstantin Marsch
    Key Cast
  • Sithembile Menck
    Key Cast
  • Katja Hutko
    Key Cast
  • Jana Lissovskaia
    Key Cast
    "Greta Erös"
  • Katja Sallay
    Key Cast
    "Melina Andrássy"
  • Pegah Ferydoni
    Key Cast
    "Dr. Sana Farahani"
    The Retreat
  • Bernhard Schütz
    Key Cast
    "Josef Held"
    Babylon Berlin
  • Mišel Matičević
    Key Cast
    "Darth Father"
    Babylon Berlin, Exil
  • Tim Klein
  • Pinto Pictures
    Production company
  • POPAKADEMIE Baden-Württemberg
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    5 Seasons - eine Reise
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 56 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 21, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    130,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Germany, Hungary
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • German Premiere
    April 12, 2023
    German premiere / national
    Spotlight section / Achtung Berlin Film Festival
Director Biography - Katja Sallay

Katja was born in Budapest, Hungary, and settled into Germany when she was 3 years old. At the age of 16 she bought a S-VHS cam and shot her first short film. Besides graduating school and having a short "Hello” at the University in Berlin in philosophy, German Literature and Hungarian Language, she started an internship at ARRI's Camera Department Berlin and from there headed straight to SET; starting out as a Loader in the analogue day and soon becoming 1. AC for features, TV and commercials.
She bought 3 old-timer cars and loved them dearly.
Her biggest love though was always telling stories. So she went to LA, to the Lee Strasberg Film and Theatre Institute, to learn how to work with actors the Method way. Strasberg offered her a scholarship for acting. Which, of course, she took. In 4 years L.A. she detected her unconditional love for acting. Back to Europe, she got the main part in the cult play "ALMA" in Vienna, which she acted in for 9 years.
Katja acts in films and TV and also performs a lot of audiobooks in her very unconventional and emotional way.
Her autobiographical script "5 Seasons – a journey” leads her back to directing – her debut as a director.

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Director Statement

We shot "5S" inmidst the two Corona years, starting September 2020 in Mannheim, Germany, traveled to Berlin and wrapped in June 2021in Budapest. To enhance the story I wanted to shoot in the real seasons - which was not only logistically an effort. But I had some great locations in mind, a lot of them outdoors, like the parks and bridges, but also two buildings that have been teared down after our shooting there. I wanted to grab their history, cause they represent the era of the dying mom Greta. They also show the beauty around us and no matter how devastated or broken you are: there will be this gorgeous sunset. It doesn't care how you feel or find it inappropriate.
Also I really prepared my actors for this "journey": over these 10 months we rehearsed and shot in 3 cities, 2 countries and always had many challenging locations (like night shoots in a beauty clinic, cause all the other hospitals were closed and in Corona alarm mode).
5S is first of all the story of three siblings stumbling together through this life event like toddlers. They also have to learn, that after a sad season, like death, not necessary spring awakens, but that there will be a long and cruel winter in between.
Season "death" might be the peak of the story, but following the characters into the period of grief/winter, where they do basically everything wrong, hurt each other even more, be all too human was my actual point of interest. Why are we so stupid? Why do we numb ourselves, do insane things, fight when all we want is basically to get a hug? Well, grief is a siren and has a very sweet voice. But it's not gonna be ok. We have to deal with background, reminiscent feelings and experiences in order to be free and to strive again as a new person.
Braided into this main story are the two stories of mom Greta, even with flashbacks into her youth in the 80ies, telling the story of the parents and how we got here. And there is Melina, whom I see as an alter ego of the mother just in a more modern version. 1 curve higher in the migrant DNA. More assimilated. But tied to her tyrannic father. These two women were essential for me, cause they are the past, meet in the present and Melina leads into the future. In the end I let them all go back to Budapest, Hungary, to get confronted with their roots. It was psychologically really good to shoot this part in the very end, as a reward or/and relief. It was not only for the story but for the shooting process an outlook into what could be.
I put 3,5 years of work in my "baby" and wanted to embody the pain you inherit from your parents, the pain they cause you, all the love there is and that all of these feelings are valid and... a part of life.