Organizers hope to stage festival later in year

MOSCOW — Hungary’s public film finance crisis has claimed its first victim.

Organizers of the Hungarian Film Week — the annual showcase of national filmmaking that usually runs in early February — said lack of money means it cannot go ahead.

The Hungarian Motion Picture Public Foundation (MMKA) — which had its funding slashed this week to $4.8 million, a third of last year’s amount, after the Hungarian parliament voted in an austerity budget — has appealed to the Ministry of National Economy and the Culture Ministry to find the money to ensure a postponed 42nd edition of the festival goes ahead.

Funding from the organization for film magazines, documentaries and animated films has also been cancelled to save money.

“The budget means we do not have the option of offering the funding needed to put on the Hungarian Film Week,” MMKA said in a statement. “However, we consider it very important that more than 40 years of continuous events held on public money is supported.”

Kata Olah, a spokeswoman for MMKA, told Variety Friday that the organization was determined the festival would take place in the spring.

“In the midst of such uncertainty in terms of financing and organization we decided to postpone it,” she said.

MMKA, which for years has been the main source of public funding for Hungarian filmmakers, has been in financial crisis since earlier this year when an audit found it had accrued massive debts.

Hungarian film industry sources say its allocation is barely enough to cover the costs of servicing its debts.

Moves to change the way public money is channelled into film have been planned by the country’s right of center government for some time.

This week’s budget shifts financing away from MMKA and toward two ministries: the Ministry of National Development, which was allocated $9.5 million, and the Ministry of National Economy, which got $3.8 million.

There is talk that Hungarian-born Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna will be put in charge of distributing the new fund to be led by the Ministry of National Economy.

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