Public pic fund has Hungarians hopeful

System from Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna

Hungarian producers are cautiously optimistic about plans being drawn up for a public film-funding system by Hungarian-born Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna, who is the country’s new film commissioner.

Charged with reforming a system the government says wasted public money, Vajna has begun consulting industry figures.

Vajna’s appointment was controversial and came at a time of heated debate over a government austerity budget that slashed funding to the Motion Picture Public Foundation, and set up two new funding bodies based at government ministries.

However, concerns have been allayed after Vajna met 25 members of the Hungarian Producers Assn. in Budapest. Gabor Kalomista, head of Megafilm, one of the country’s largest production companies, said that change was long overdue in a system that had been dogged by cronyism. “The old system was very confused and was not linked to results,” said Kalomista, who is also head of the producers’ org.

He said filmmakers who failed at home and abroad still “continued to access funds due to their personal connections.” He believes Vajna’s appointment offers a chance to set up a transparent structure.

The producers’ org would like to see a credit system to support both Hungarian projects and international co-productions where filmmakers were obliged to prove their competence in using funds appropriately. It is also proposing a Chamber of Audivisual Art be established as a self-regulating film body.

Gabor Kovacs, of Film Partners, said, “Although he did not reveal much that was new, Vajna did say there would be funding doors for features, docs, animation and co-productions.”

Viktoria Petranyi, of Proton Films, said, “Vajna does seem to be listening to opinions and talking to people. We are prepared to give him a bit more time.”

Vajna, who plans to come up with a funding blueprint within two to three months, could not be reached for comment Thursday.