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Hajdu, Bodzsar pix share $2.2 mil

Hungarian fund focuses on mainstream movies

MOSCOW — Hungary’s national film fund, which relaunched two years ago under the direction of Hollywood producer Andy Vajna, has announced grants worth $2.2 million to two features.

The $1.3 million of production support for Szabolcs Hajdu’s “Mirage,” a $2.3 million co-production with minority support from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund worth $93,000, and $900,000 toward Mark Bodzsar’s $1.4 million budgeted debut “Heavenly Shift” reflects Vajna’s policy of supporting high-concept commercially viable films.

Vajna’s appointment to head a completely new funding body after the collapse of debt-ridden predecessor body MMKA was met with dismay by some in the Hungarian film industry.

Top directors including arthouse auteur Bela Tarr predicted a disaster for thought-provoking Hungarian film.

But Vajna, who steered blockbusters including “Rambo” and a host of other big-budget action projects through the Hollywood studio system, has proved adept at identifying projects that reflect Hungarian traditions with audience appeal.

“Mirage,” by a director who has won plaudits for “White Palms” and “Bibliotheque Pascal,” tells the story of an African football player who flees a small Hungarian town after committing a crime only to find refuge in a farm that turns out to be a modern-day slave camp.

“Heavenly Shift” is the tale of a Yugoslav refugee, who gets involved in training Hungarian paramedics in order to finance the rescue of his lover from civil war back home.

Vajna has also greenlit funding support yet to be specified for feature-length docu “Stream of Love” by Agnes Sos, about an elderly peasant who tries his luck at getting married again.