Wednesday, November 22nd, 2023

Queerguru’s Ris Fatah reviews NARROW PATH TO HAPPINESS the quest to record the uplifting love story of an Hungarian Romani gay couple




Narrow Path to Happiness is an uplifting fly-on-the-wall documentary following passionate Hungarian ethnic Romani couple Gergo Gagyi and Lenard Varadi in their ambitious quest to document their lives and romance as a musical.

Gergo and Lenard met whilst living in an extremely poor rural Hungarian Romani community. Homophobia is rife in the Roma community and most queer Roma remain in the closet. Gergo, a handsome, strapping 31-year-old builder was having none of this, and, six years earlier, had proudly declared his love for Lenard, ten years his junior. The local community didn’t make things easy for them, particularly Gergo’s mother whose last words to him were “You faggot, are you still sucking dicks?

This tough environment prompted the couple to move to Budapest to live their truest lives, as well as to create the musical. Here, they met documentary director Kata Olah, who began filming their unusual quest.

Queer life in Hungary is not easy as in other European countries. In 2021 Victor Orban’s nasty right-wing government passed a law banning “homosexual and trans-sexual propaganda”. Same-sex marriage is also banned. Funding for queer romantic musicals is, therefore, thin on the ground. Gergo, however, will not take no for an answer, and it is his single-handed determination, optimism and generally bright outlook in the face of countless obstacles, that make him the star of this show. Gergo is also the master of the unexpected one-liner. When describing the film to their glamorous script-writer Zsofi Kemeny, he says “Funky music, lots of dancing, with a pinch of racism.” On a promotional photoshoot, he asks the stylist to make him look like a member of the mafia – to avoid any effeminate homosexual stereotyping. Not that there would be any danger of super macho Gergo looking anything but that. More laughs occur in a recording studio when Gergo can’t accept that auto-tune could improve his occasional out-of-tune signing. Another highlight is the arrival in town of Lenard’s camp young mother, clad top to toe in tight garments in various shades of orange. She’s always been accepting of Lenard and Gergo.

We follow the couple as they move into their new home in Budapest, start working in the city, attend Pride events, produce music for their musical, deal with media interest in their relationship, a family funeral and meet up again with their families who end up being surprisingly open-minded. Gergo also discusses his internal conflict between his Christianity and his homosexuality, something a group called Christians for Homosexuality helps him with. We also watch the couple work on their musical and imagery.

The overriding message in this documentary is that love conquers all. The couple plans to grow old together. Gergo’s relentless drive and energy are very inspiring, and coupled with his charisma and obvious love for Lenard, make this a very inspiring story to watch. Gergo’s talent for music also shines through and complements Gergely Barcza’s accompanying soundtrack score. The addition of background radio and TV broadcasts detailing homophobic and racist anti-Roma government rhetoric is a powerful production detail that highlights their struggle. A unique and interesting insight into queer Hungarian life from a Roma perspective.





Queerguru’s Contributing Editor Ris Fatah is a successful fashion/luxury business consultant  (when he can be bothered) who divides and wastes his time between London and Ibiza. He is a lover of all things queer, feminist, and human rights in general. @ris.fatah

Posted by queerguru  at  09:13

Genres:  documentary, international, romance

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