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Gov’t gives Magyar fest a leg up

Event showcases 3 generations of auteurs

BUDAPEST — Hungary’s 34th annual Magyar Film Week wraps Feb. 4 after eight days of screenings that gave healthy emphasis to documentaries and boasted a roster of 35 feature films, pumped up by a last-minute injection of government cash.

According to Hungarian Film Union general manager Eva Vezer, fest, which kicked off Jan. 28, received support from the newly elected film-friendly socialist government. The 35 features — with 22 in competition — that screened throughout the week at Budapest’s Mamut I cinemaplex were of better quality than last year’s features, many of which were shot on video.

Vezer says the government of Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy underwrote a number of films at various stages of development that had languished for years during the previous conservative administration.

The abundance of features has also enabled Hungary to showcase three generations of Magyar auteurs. “We are well represented in this festival,” Vezer says. “We have the older generation, the middle, and a lot of first-time directors.”

The fest was opened with “Wake Up Mate, Don’t You Sleep” by famed 82-year-old auteur Miklos Jancso and will close with 78-year-old Karoly Makk’s “A Long Weekend in Pest and Buda.”

Features like Gyorgy Szomjas’s “Vagabond” highlighted the contribution of Hungary’s middle-aged helmers, and works by the younger generation include 30-year-old Csaba Fazekas’s “Happy Birthday.”

The 34th Film Week was conspicuous for its focus on documentaries. The fest screened 37 docs and 21 experimental and short films.

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