Hungarians upbeat in tough times

New film fund is adding to biz confidence

Hungarian filmmakers are putting on a brave face in Berlin, determined not to let economic turmoil and a major shakeup in public film funding at home knock their confidence.

A little more than a week after the country’s latest economic shockwave — state airline Malev collapsed — producers, distributors and industry officials remain upbeat.

The new system of public film finance under the direction of Budapest-born Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna has allowed filmmakers access to money, said Csaba Zoltan Papp of Magyar Filmunio, the international office of the Hungarian National Film Fund. “We already have four titles that have received production grants and about 15 titles granted for development.”

Three films were greenlit only four months after the film fund was reorganized, a fourth has just been announced: “Hier” directed by European Film Academy short film award winner Balint Kenyeres.

The film — about a man who must confront his past — is Kenyeres’ first feature.

The other three productions include: “Liza, a rokatunder” (Liza, the Fox Fairy) and “A nagy fuzet” (The Notebook), both of which received around $635,000, and “Zero” with a grant of $42,000.

There is also a Hungarian film in the Berlin Competition: “Just the Wind” by Benedek Fliegauf.

Hungary has long had a tradition of fighting back against political turmoil and austerity at home.

The country’s annual national film showcase, the Magyar Film Week, has been revived under the leadership of director Bela Tarr after last February’s event was suspended, although there was a brief, face-saving series of screenings in May.

European film festival directors flew to Budapest last week to show their support for the revived event, including Cannes’ Thiery Fremaux and Berlin’s Dieter Kosslick. Venice’s Alberto Barbera sent a letter of support after the collapse of the Malev airline prevented him flying to the city.

A series of industry events are scheduled at Berlin’s Hungarian artistic center, the College Hungaricom, including a producers’ brunch and round-table discussion Sunday on the political crisis that will feature National Film Fund head Vajna, among others.

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