Funding twist for ‘Fateless’

HMPF setting up new co. to secure financing for pic

BUDAPEST — If Hungarian Nobel laureate for literature Imre Kertesz didn’t suffer enough in WWII, efforts to bring his novel “Fateless,” a tragic coming-of-age tale set in a Nazi concentration camp, to the screen have been marred by uncharacteristic catastrophe. The most recent is a breakdown in cash flow that caused principal photography to shut down for 10 weeks and placed the project’s future in jeopardy.

But a new deal struck with Canadian-based producer Andras Hamori may save the film, being made by Hungary’s top cinematic talent, including veteran Hollywood d.p. Lajos Koltai, who is helming the project.

The Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation is setting up a new company, Magyar Mozgokep Kft. (MMK), which will focus on securing financing for the feature. MMK has been in talks with Hamori, a Hungarian-born producer who provided the financing for director Istvan Szabo’s “Sunshine,” who has reportedly agreed to bail out the troubled project.

“Fateless” has been marred by troubles ever since the movie project was announced shortly after Hungarian-born Kertesz won the Nobel Prize for literature in December 2002. Director Koltai’s first hurdle was casting, having to comb the nation for a suitable boy actor to play the story’s protagonist.

Even though the Hungarian government has committed $4.1 million to the project, a hefty sum in Hungarian filmmaking, the project has been bombarded by financing problems. Author Kertesz rejected offers by Western studios and affluent production companies to bring his novel to the screen, saying that “Fateless” is a tale that should be told in Hungary.