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36 questions, three strangers and one dark secret

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It’s a simple concept: 36 questions, three strangers and one close meeting. But in just 20 short minutes, Triangle couldn’t be more chilling. Buckle up and strap in.

Triangle is the 2020 graduation film of AUB alumni Peter Engelmann, and time after time, it continues to capture the attention of audiences across the globe, from The Royal Television Society to American Cinematographer.

What keeps audiences feeling every second of Triangle’s 20 intense minutes? Maybe it’s the raw, hyperreal performances of lead actors Lili Vetlényi, József S. Kovács and Dániel Gaál, or perhaps viewers are captivated by the film’s endearing, tantalising (and shocking) psychological horror.

AUB& speaks to Hungarian-born Director and MA Film Practice graduate Peter Engelmann on campus to ask how three strangers really be so deeply affected by 36 innocent questions.

“My goal was to reach as much realness and documentary style as much as I can because that was my experiment; to mix documentary and fiction. I wanted to cast actors who didn’t know each other, so I wanted to recreate the experiment and for this, I had actors who never met.

“The actors received 36 questions the night before shooting, and it was mostly shot in one take the next day, until a certain point. I asked the actors to answer some questions entirely on their own, but there were other questions where I highlighted key points and information and asked them to mention it, in their own way.

“For fellow actors at the table, they didn’t know what was a prompt from me, and what was a true improvisation, so it was an experiment within an experiment as their reactions were improvised too.

“The core idea around Triangle came to me in about 2018, while I was studying BA (Hons) Psychology. The social issue that the film explores was hunting me for a long time, but at the time, I couldn’t find connection in the story, or decide the form that the film would take.

“When I came to AUB for my MA I transformed as a filmmaker, and throughout the process, the course team let me (and highly encouraged me) to experiment, to think outside the box while I'm exploring my idea and how I could make it work; I truly believe that I couldn’t have done it anywhere else."

And after a Summer of Festival successes, including wins in the UK, USA and Hungary, Peter plans for one last hurrah as Triangle begins to shift away from the festival circuit.

He explains: “We’ve qualified for BAFTA now and we’ve submitted it, so we now wait for an announcement before I think about getting distribution over a streaming platform. However, I’d really like AUB students to get a sneak viewing of the film, and they can do so here and below for a limited time. The password is 0016 - keep it secret, keep it safe!"

Peter’s next move centres both around a feature adaptation of a memoir from the Holocaust, and a short film backed by Hungary’s biggest Film Studio, who he met at Adolph Zukor Film Festival. ORIGO Film Studio will be funding post-production, with additional help from its post-production facilities.

Read more about Peter's award-winning graduation short film Triangle

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