Private Project

The Smell of Humans

A dramatized film adaptation of Ernő Szép’s novel of the same title
A Streamed Film-Play
In Hungarian, with English subtitles

The profound depths of Hungarian writer Ernő Szép’s life and poetry are revived in Győző Ferencz’s new film adaptation of the poet’s novel, The Smell of Humans. This stoic and lyrical narrative of twenty fateful days offers a historically and artistically authentic account of an inhuman era.

In the autumn of 1944 the 60-year-old Ernő Szép, along with other Jewish men, was called up for forced labor. By then he had been evicted from the hotel on Margit Island, Budapest, that had been his home for 33 years, and was interned in a building marked by the yellow star on Pozsonyi Street. Eventually he was released after three weeks, thanks to a protective pass from the Swedish Embassy, after he had a first-hand experience of Nazi inhumanity.

His memoir, The Smell of Humans, is a diary-like account of the long marches, nights spent at sports stadiums and brick-yards, the atrocities and cold-blooded murders committed by Hungarian Arrow Cross guards, the methodical acts of terror that robbed Jews of all human dignity and made their tormentors shed their humanity. Yet Ernő Szép’s voice, here as in his other works, remains graceful and spontaneous, steeped in empathy as he recounts his tribulations while maintaining an ironic distance. The sentences of The Smell of Humans emanate the same aura of humanity confronting tragedy that makes his poems so moving. In this dramatization based on his memoir the included poems and chansons from Ernő Szép’s oeuvre add a note of lyrical counterpoint.

  • József Gyabronka
    Key Cast
    "Ernő Szép"
  • Eszter Balla
    Key Cast
  • Tamás Dunai
    Key Cast
  • István Fillár
    Key Cast
  • Éva Kerekes
    Key Cast
  • Zsolt László
    Key Cast
  • Kati Lázár
    Key Cast
  • Ildikó Tóth
    Key Cast
  • Ernő Szép
  • Győző Ferencz
  • Zsigmond Lázár
  • Gergely Romvári
    Set Designer
  • Enikő Kárpáti
    Costume Designer
  • György Pálos
    Director of Photography – Editor
  • Zsuzsa Tompai
    Scenic Designer
  • Éva Kutschera
  • Petra Sallak
  • György Pálos
  • Mária Harangi
  • Madách Theatre NPO
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Biographical Film, Drama, Film-Play, Feature Film
  • Runtime:
    1 hour
  • Completion Date:
    September 12, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Full HD 1080p, 25p/sec
  • Aspect Ratio:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Oniros Film Awards®
    New York
    United States
    April 2023
    Winner: Best Biographical Film
  • Oniros Film Awards®
    New York
    United States
    April 2023
    Winner: Best Actor - József Gyabronka
Director Biography - Mária Harangi

Born in Pécs in 1975, Ms Mária Harangi studied Hungarian and French at Eötvös Loránd University's Faculty of Humanities, and then earned her degree in directing at the University of Theatre and Film Arts upon completing the specialised musical drama course headed by Miklós Szinetár. As her diploma production, she presented Donizetti's comic opera Rita at the Millenáris Theatre, Budapest, while writing her thesis, titled 'Music is Half the Battle', on possible applications of musical prose and musical theatre.

After co-directing two operatic works (Hunyadi László and Rigoletto) with Miklós Szinetár at the Hungarian State Opera, she made her directorial debut with Levente Gyöngyösi's opera The Stork Caliph. She has directed in various genres of musical drama. In opera, she staged Gianni Schicchi as an examination production, and at various Hungarian repertory theatres also directed Il trovatore, The Spinning Room, Das Dreimäderlhaus, The Seagull (at the Mezzo Opera Competition and Festival in New York), as well as a non-traditional production of The Magic Flute with the HOPPart Company in Budapest. She has directed both classic musicals and ones that bring innovation to the genre, including productions of West Side Story, Man of La Mancha, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!, Avenue Q, Group Therapy, The Vulture and Into the Woods. She directed her first classical operetta, Baroness Lili, in Kecskemét in 2009, following up with Miska the Magnate in Zalaegerszeg in 2010. Her stagings of classical dramas include A Streetcar Named Desire and Closed Proceedings. She regularly develops puppet and children's theatre productions.

She has been the artistic assistant of the Hungarian State Opera since 2016. She directed János vitézke, a piece compiled from the works of Petőfi and Kacsóh, played on the Bánffy Stage of Budapest's Eiffel Art Studios.

She gained her DLA in 2020 in the doctoral programme of the University of Theatre ad Film Arts, where the subject of her dissertation was the curriculum development of tertiary musical theatre director training.

In 2022, she received the Lajos Gela Commemorative Plaque.

She is married to theatre director and set designer Gergely Romvári and a mother of three.

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