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Szabo offers warning to filmmakers

Hungarian helmer speaks out at <I>Variety</I> Cinema Militans lecture

UTRECHT — Hungarian lenser Istvan Szabo gave an impassioned nod to the “miracle of film and television,” saying that the one thing other arts cannot duplicate is that you can express “the living, human face,” and “how an emotion is being experienced as it occurs.”

But Szabo, speaking at the Variety Cinema Militans lecture at the Dutch film fest on Sunday, warned that the camera has been and is still being used as a weapon for politicians and a vehicle for the telling of lies. He cautioned filmers and delegates to the fest to “Be careful. It is as easy to lie with pictures as it is with spoken and written words.”

Szabo, in a Q&A following the lecture, said he believed his job as a filmmaker is “to ask questions” and “leave the answers to the people who have the vanity to think they are very important.”

The Hungarian helmer’s discourse marked the second year in a row that filmers from former Eastern bloc countries now part of the European Union were chosen to hand down their vision of film. Last year Polish director Agnieszka Holland delivered a somewhat apocalyptic view of the cinema.

 It is the 15th year in a row that the Cinema Militans lecture has been held and the 5th year in a row that it has been sponsored and organized by Variety. The fixed theme, “The Position and Viability of Cinema In the Present Age” traces its roots back to Dutch film critic Menno ter Braak’s 1926 essay “Cinema Militans.”

The 10 day fest which kicked off September 28 is celebrating its 25th Jubilee year, but it opened on a heavy note when helmer Willem van de Sande Bakhuysen died just one day before the world premiere of his film “Live!”

Szabo’s oratory capped the Holland Film Meeting, a four day gathering of industry professionals and pitching sessions in which new Dutch and Euro projects were unveiled to a packed lecture hall of filmers, investors and broadcasters. “White Women,” a project pitched by director Melinda Jansen and producer Reinier Selen, also on Sunday, won a Euro 5000 ($6000) Kodak Development Prize.

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