Gov’t looks to privatize biz

World Brief

BUDAPEST — Hungary’s state-owned movie and distribution industry may soon be up for sale.

Draft of a new law that would set the stage for sell-off of the Hungarian filmmaking infrastructure is scheduled to go to the parliament as early as May. Unclear is which parts of the infrastructure would go up for sale.

Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy recently ordered the transfer of Hungary’s film archive (containing historic titles going back a century) from government-owned distributor Mokep Rt. (a candidate for privatization) to the Hungarian National Film Archive.

By moving toward privatization, the Medgyessy government is reversing policies of the previous government of Prime Minister Victor Orban.

But insiders believe the value of the studio or production company may lie in its film archive.

The Medgyessy government vows to pump revenues from the sell-off into moviemakers’ budgets.

One project that could get a boost is “Fateless,” the 1975 novel by Imre Kertesz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature last year. The government already committed to pumping $4.1 million into the project, now in pre-production under the direction of Oscar-winning cinematographer Lajos Koltai, and is expected to pony up more funds before principal photography — scheduled for late 2003 — is wrapped.

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