'Birthday,' 'Forest' nab first film kudos

BUDAPEST — Established Hungarian helmer Peter Gothar took the best picture prize for his feature film “Hungarian Beauty,” a cross-generational comedy about urban Hungarian life, at Hungarian Film Week, which wrapped in the Magyar capital Feb. 4.

Best first film award went to Csaba Fazekas for “Happy Birthday,” the story of a disenchanted 30-year-old who attempts to change his life in a single day, and the Simo Sandor Best First Film Prize went to “Forest,” a stylized murder mystery from Benedek Fliegauf. “Forest” was also the favorite of foreign critics who gave it the Gene Moskowitz Prize, and “Happy Birthday” was the choice of viewers voting over the Internet.

Ferenc Grunwalsky, famed for his d.p. skills, got the nod for best visual expression for “Dancing Figure,” a film that celebrated the dancing human body by evoking classical symbols.

That vets like Grunwalsky and Gothar shared honors with newcomers like Fliegauf underscored one of the fest’s strengths — the multiple generations of filmers who participated. “People loved this festival because we had every generation of filmmaker represented,” says fest director Eva Vezer.

The d.p. award went to Tamas Sas for “Happy Birthday”; best screenplay was awarded to Andor Szilagyi for “Rose’s Songs,” a moving Holocaust story circa 1944 that Szilagyi also directed.

Zsombor Dyga and Balazs Lovas received best screenplay by an upcoming or first-time screenwriter for “Bro,” a story of urban decay in the Budapest projects also helmed by 28-year-old Dygas.

“Libiomfi” thesp Zoltan Mucsi won fest best actor, and “Happy Birthday’s” Eszter Onodi received the top actress award. Best supporting actor went to hard working Lajos Kovacs for his work in both “Fools Song” and “Rinaldo.”

In the category of short and experimental films, the main prize went to Karoly Ujj Meszaros for “The Rubberman,” the story of the dreamworld of a protagonist named Norbi. The top doc film went to Tamas Almasi for “The End of the Road,” a tale of two impoverished east Hungarian families on the road of the post-communist and post-modern future.

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