Livia Ungur is a Romanian-born, Brooklyn-based artist.
True story: a country becomes obsessed with a TV show, which provides a weekly escape from living under a brutal dictatorship. The country is Romania during the 1980s, and the show is the American soap opera "Dallas." This unlikely love affair propels HOTEL DALLAS (2015, 60 min), a fantastical road movie that unfolds before and after the fall of communism.
The film imagines the after-life of a soap opera character, following his TV death. The ghostly Mr. Here is exiled to Romania, where he checks into the Hotel Dallas, a life-size replica of the "Dallas" ranch. Mr. Here then journeys through two decades of Romanian history, in search of the Endless Column; he believes that Brancusi's famous sculpture may act as a portal leading back to Dallas. Through the lens of a kitschy TV show, HOTEL DALLAS presents a surreal, tragicomic portrait of a nation in flux.
The film is the MFA thesis project of Livia Ungur (Yale School of Art, Class of 2015). She made the film in collaboration with Sherng-Lee Huang. The pair previously made the short film "Prodigal," which is now touring internationally with the Black Maria Film Festival.
The production was funded by the Yale School of Art, through an Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellowship. Original music by Yale School of Music's Sam Suggs and Suliman Tekalli. Visual effects by Cristobal Cea. Casting by MRA. Original artwork by Mark Starling, who also plays "The Artist."