Hungary’s new international film fund should be up and running by the end of June at the latest, according to its head, Hollywood producer Andy Vajna.
Budapest-born Vajna, who the government put in charge of a major overhaul of Hungary’s public film finance system earlier this year, said he expected swift approval for his program.
“I am in constant touch with the government and am confident that unless we make drastic changes to the program it will be approved,” Vajna told Variety.
Vajna was brought in after the Hungarian Motion Picture Public Foundation (MMKA) racked up $50 million in debt.
He is now overseeing its closure and that of the organizations it funded, including international film promo body Filmunio.
Vajna’s new fund will take over some, but not all, of the MMKA’s functions.
Distribution, international promotion, feature funding, animation, asset management and development will come under the new fund.
Responsibility for publications, fests, film clubs, funding documentaries and shorts will be transferred to other government bodies.
The thorny question of which producers will receive funds promised — but not yet paid — by the debt-ridden MMKA, is something Vajna wants to resolve within the next month.
“We are talking to producers who are owed money to see how we can organise this; it is a major undertaking — $50 million is a lot of money.”
Vajna, who has faced local flak over fears the new fund will reflect more commercial tastes, insisted his key goal is to back talent, reflect Hungarian culture and raise the profile of its film industry internationally.
“It is not a question of arthouse or commercial. It’s about entertainment. It’s about ‘The King’s Speech,’ ‘Dead Poet’s Society,’ Coen brothers movies — successful at festivals and the box office.
“We have a lot of work to do in terms of screenplays and opening up our vision to the world and focusing better on Hungarian culture; we have to make sure that our films are saying something about Hungarian society. That is what the government is funding.”
He pledged that the new system would promote new talent and put Hungarian film funding on a more professional footing where support would depend “not on who you know, but what you know.”