Cutbacks Victimize Filmmakers

Hard economic times and budget cutbacks translate into less Hungarian film product in 1995.

Previously a regular in Berlin’s Competition, the country is repped at this year’s event only in the Forum’s video sidebar, with the three-part docu, “The Message of the Stones,” by Miklos Jancso. The veteran helmer took his camera and careful eye to villages in Romania and Hungary to document ancient rural Jewish cultures.

Hungary’s contribution to Film Week, currently underway and a traditional showcase of new local product, is also down from last year. Fifteen features and 42 docus were skedded for the Feb. 4-8 event, down from 27 features the previous year. Overall tone is expected to show the increasing move to more commercial fare.

Lineup will introduce the word “sequel” into the Magyar movie lexicon. One of the most eagerly awaited entries is vet director Peter Bacso’s “Another Witness,” follow-up to his 1969 classic, “The Witness,” lauded for its brave satire of Stalinist rule in Hungary in the bleak 1950s.

Other highlights coming down the pike in ’95 include:

* “The Wondrous Voyage of Kornel Esti,” directed by Jozsef Pacskovszky and starring Kathleen Gati. Period piece set in the 1930s tells the story of an aging writer who confronts painful memories of his youth during a train trip to Vienna. Pic is based on the novel by writer Dezso Kosztolanyi.

* “The Bastard,” directed by Ferenc Andras. This Hungarian-German-Polish co-production teams Polish star Daniel Olbrychski with Hungary’s Gyorgy Cserhalmi in an action-adventure, a genre rarely tackled in Central Euro cinema. It’s the story of a mountain-climber who learns of the existence of a father he never knew in a videotaped will left for him by his recently departed mother. In a bid to save his dad and family fortune, the protagonist battles con artists and the mafia.

* “The Section,” directed by Peter Gothar. In this communist-era romance, a young bureaucrat (Marian Nagy) is assigned to a lonely post in Romania’s Carpathian mountains, and receives natural love lessons from a wild mountain man (Jozsef Szarvas).

* “The Brooklyn Brothers,” directed by Peter Gardos. East-West yarn focuses on two Budapest brothers, separated when one flees to the U.S. after the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Duo are reunited when the American sibling finds he can’t sire a child, and searches out his blood brother to do the deed with his American wife.

* “Awakenings,” directed by Judit Elek. Coming-of-age story of a young girl who learns about life and love in Hungary during the repressive ’50s.

* “Red Colibri,” directed by Zsuzsa Boszormenyi. A rundown Budapest taxi is the vehicle for this romance between a Hungarian cab driver (Barbara De Rossi) and a young Ukrainian ballet dancer (Branislav Tesanovic). Pic is a Hungarian-Italian co-production.

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