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Letters from Eastern Europe

Czech marketshare ahead while Hungary is thin

Czech cinema, commanding a nearly 40% domestic marketshare, is at a high-water mark, with ticket prices averaging more than $6 and auds for all films north of 1.2 million — the biggest crowds counted in post-communist history.

Such success will be reflected in Berlin, where Jan Sverak’s children’s puppet tale “Kooky” will be among market titles, along with “The House,” Zuzana Liova’s Czech-Slovak co-production, which is screening in the Berlinale’s Forum section.

Liova’s debut was developed through the ScriptEast program, a script development project for Eastern European screenwriters established by Polish producer Dariusz Jablonski, reflecting a trend toward closer cooperation among the region’s creative talents.

Emerging talent is found not only among feature writers and directors. “Matchmaking Mayor,” by Erika Hnikova, a Czech-Slovak documentary, shows the helmer’s skill at ferreting out the foibles of subcultures.

In Bulgaria, by contrast, the local biz is more challenged, with that country’s films capturing a marketshare of only 4% in 2010.

But the success of Dimitar Mitovski’s “Mission London,” — which last year took nearly $1.8 million domestically and attracted 375,000 viewers, making it the biggest domestic grosser in the territory’s history — has helped put the country back on the map again.

In Hungary the industry is also dealing with an anemic domestic market in which local films’ marketshare amounted to less than 2% last year. Despite this internal weakness, Hungarian cimema is well respected on the international festival scene. Helmers such as Kornel Mundruczo (“Tender Son — The Frankenstein Project,” “Delta”) have enjoyed Cannes slots.

Top local film, “Polygamy,” by Denes Orosz, about a struggling screenwriter who wakes up to find his girlfriend replaced by another young woman, did just $580,000 in business.

More from the Berlin Daily: Central & Eastern European Cinema:
Fights and flights | Letters from Eastern Europe | Eastern European titles at Berlin

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