Hungary rides new wave

Tax rebate and fresh talent strengthen scene

BERLIN — Hungarian cinema is going strong thanks to a 20% tax rebate and a new generation of helmers flexing storytelling muscle.

There are five Hungarian features screening in various sections of the Berlinale: Csaba Bollok’s “Iska’s Journey,” Arpad Bogdan’s “Happy New Life,” Karoly Esztergalyos’ “Men in the Nude,” Kristina Goda’s “Children of Glory” and Srdan Golubovic’s Hungarian-Serbian co-production “The Trap.”

Not since 1994 has Hungary had such a strong presence at the fest.

In addition, Gabor Herendi’s “Lora” and Janos Szasz’s “Opium — Diary of a Madwoman” are screening in the market.

“Opium” picked up the helmer, lenser and sound gongs at the recent Hungarian Film Week. “Iska’s Journey” won the auteur pic award.

For the first time in the 37-year history of the Film Week it was necessary to have a pre-selection process as 37 pics had been entered but only 17 could be screened.

“This is an exceptional Berlinale for us and we’re very busy,” said Eva Vezer, topper of the Hungarian Film Commission.

“It’s the result of years of work. When we noticed that there was a new generation of directors developing we realized we really had to push them internationally.”

The new wave of helmers also includes Kornel Mundruczo (“Johanna”), Gyorgy Palfi (“Taxidermia”), Benedek Fliegauf (“Dealer”), Agnes Kocsis (“Fresh Air”), Balint Kenyeres (“Before Dawn”) and Antal Nimrod (“Kontroll”).

Nimrod is one of the few Hungarian helmers to have crossed over to Hollywood, where he recently shot “Vacancy,” starring Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson.

The others have stayed closer to home. Many of them are former pupils of the late film lecturer Sandor Simo. According to Vezer, much of the recent success of Hungarian cinema can be attributed to Simo.

The lack of sound stages in Hungary should be resolved when the Korda Studios in Eytek near Budapest opens in May.

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