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New Hungarian Film Foundation Launched

The Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation: a leap toward the free market, or the old, state-controlled regime in new clothes? Opinion here is sharply divided.

The foundation was launched last week with an initial government grant of 811 million forints (about $11 million) to plow into film and docu production and distribution.

The government formerly doled out subsidies via the Culture & Education Ministry’s department of cinematography. The foundation was created by agreement among Culture Minister Bertalan Andrasfalvy and reps of 30 industry guilds and associations (including film and tv artists, directors and distributors) and studios.

It hopes to attract additional funds from other Hungarian and foreign entities and will redistribute the coin via seven autonomous boards. Studios, companies and entrepreneurs will compete for funds.

Neither the association of young filmmakers (FIFI) nor the animation directors’ guild signed the agreement. “We cannot see clearly whether the foundation is a really new concept,” said FIFI’s Marton Ledniczky. “We [have] four basic questions about our doubts which have not been answered…. The evil is always hidden in the details.”

Ferenc Kohalmi, department of cinematography topper, has been appointed secretariat of the foundation’s national board. He says the foundation is the best way to ensure the survival of the domestic film industry and to help its transition to a market economy.

Indigenous film production “would collapse sooner or later if we did not set up a new system which can accumulate funds from the state and other sources, and place [them] at the disposal of autonomous professional boards,” he said.

Named president of the national board is Szilard Ujhelyi, retired filmmaker who once headed the state department of cinematography.

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