Film grant decline worries Hungarian pic biz

The recent announcement by the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation of film projects selected to receive government support for 1995 has left a residue of disappointment within the Magyar cinema, and doubt as to whether the industry can survive.

The foundation has received public funds to provide partial financing to only 18 feature film projects this year.

Given that up to three years ago, Hungarian cinema produced more than 30 feature films annually, as much as 50% of the country’s film professionals are now unemployed and insiders warn that the industry could collapse within the year.

‘Unable to operate’

“We’ve already received a letter from one film studio (MIT production company) that they are unable to operate,” said Lorant Szanto, HMPF secretary for information and economics.

“The founders of the HMPF met earlier in the spring, discussed the situation, and reported that by autumn the film industry will close down.”

The crisis gripping Hungarian cinema is the result of drastic cuts in government support. Reeling from a financial crisis of its own, Hungary’s socialist-liberal coalition has allocated only 885 million forints ($7.1 million) to the film sector for 1995, down from 1 billion forints in 1993.

Because of mounting budgetary pressures, the HMPF expects lawmakers to reduce this support by an additional $1.6 million before the end of the year.

Too young

According to local filmmakers, Magyar cinema, barely five years into the capitalist era, is too young to stand on its own.

In order to become a viable business, the industry needs to make commercial films, analysts said.

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