Rising from the ashes of numerous different movements and sounds, punk rock established itself as a major music genre in the 1970s. The main hubs were New York City and London, but it caught the imagination of a generation of disenfranchised youths all around the world. While much of the focus was on the US and the UK, there were even lively DIY scenes behind the Iron Curtain, albeit slightly later. Hungary provides the setting for Erasing Frank.
Budapest, 1983, and the communist regime is at the height of its repression but is beginning to lose the battle to control the populous. Frank (Benjamin Fuchs) is the lead singer in a popular, and therefore illegal, punk band. When shutting their shows down don’t stop them getting their message out, he’s arrested and sent to a state psychiatric hospital in an attempt to silence him. Frank is prepared to resist at all costs.
Erasing Frank is a powerful portrait of state abuse which remembers those who risked, and in many cases lost, their lives protesting against it. Gábor Fabricius’ film works thanks to some great black and white cinematography (Tamás Dobos), which really brings the claustrophobia and oppression of the era into stark relief, and a propulsive performance from Fuchs. The relentlessness of Erasing Frank is what really hammers home the message.
Erasing Frank screens at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.