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Gov’t cedes control of film assets

MMK's control became effective Jan. 29

BUDAPEST — Underscoring the changes rocking the Hungarian film industry, the Hungarian Motion Picture Public Foundation (MMK) announced the government is giving it control of two vital pieces of state-owned cinema property: the public portion of the Mafilm Studios, Hungary’s oldest studio system, and the Hungary Film Laboratory.

MMK’s control of these assets became effective Jan. 29. MMK made the announcement during the 38th Hungarian Film Week cinema festival, under way in Budapest.

This “transfer” marks the motion picture foundation’s transformation from fund allocating body to what MKK reps describe as “an intellectual and professional center” in Hungarian cinema.

MMK is planning to develop both Mafilm and the Hungarian film lab, no easy task in light of the intense competition in film services hitting the market. First to arrive, with a planned May opening, is the Korda Film Studio, a massive 100 million euros ($130 million) moviemaking complex under development by central European tycoon Sandor Demjan and Hollywood indie producer Andrew Vajna on a site just outside Budapest.

MMK is increasing its activity in commercial filmmaking as state participation in the industry continues to diminish. MMK announced government subsidies to the industry will fall by 30% this year, although foundation leaders predict Hungary will complete at least 15 feature films for release in 2008.

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