×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Local Hungarian Films Attract National Support

The Hungarian National Film Fund was set up in 2011 and since then there have been increasing signs that the local business is strengthening.

Laszlo Nemes’ foreign-language film Oscar win for Holocaust drama “Son of Saul” last year was a high point, but several other major prizes have come Hungary’s way, such as Berlin’s Golden Bear win for Ildiko Enyedi’s love story “On Body and Soul,” which is the country’s submission for the foreign-language Oscar this year.

One strength of the local industry is the variety of movies being produced, encompassing genre films, including crime thrillers such Eva Gardos’ “Budapest Noir,” romantic dramas like Gabor Herendi’s “Kincsem” and animated features like “The Legend of King Solomon.”

“There’s no typical type of production we have been encouraging,” says Andy Vajna, Hungary’s film commissioner. “We are encouraging everybody to use their best imagination and try to make contact with an audience.”

Script development has been a particular focus of the fund, which is led by Vajna and its CEO Agnes Havas. “Most scripts need a little tinkering so we work with the writer to lead them in the direction that we feel will either make it more acceptable as an art form or as an audience pleaser,” Vajna says.

Popular on Variety

The fund has around 35 projects in development at any one time, with six to eight moving into production a year, including one or two bigger-budget films.

“This could only have happened with the help of Andy Vajna,” says Havas. “He has the experience of the international marketplace and the American production enviroment.”

Winning awards is one goal, but so is increasing Hungarian cinema’s share of the local box office. So far this year local films have attracted around 1 million admissions; the ambition is to double that.

International co-productions are another priority. “We are supporting the producers to go out and look beyond our borders, because that gives their film a better exposure,” Vajna says. The fund also backs films from outside Hungary, such as Gyorgy Kristof’s Slovak-Czech-Hungarian pic “Out,” which played this year in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section.

The fund has also been working to lift new talent in the business. Its initiative to support first-time directors, the Incubator Program, moves five features a year into production with budgets of up to 200,000 euros ($236,000).

A training program has been launched that aims to give newcomers hands-on experience in craft roles and placement with a production at the end of training. Havas also sees a need to incorporate cinema into mainstream schooling. “We strongly believe in developing general education through moving images because it is the everyday tool of the kids these days — they use an iPhone like we use a knife and fork.”

The fund is also proud of its restoration work on old films such as Zoltan Fabri’s “Merry-Go-Round,” which played in Cannes Classics.

Hungarian filmmakers are making more adventurous, bigger-budget films, like “Kincsem” and “Sunset,” the follow-up film from “Son of Saul” director Laszlo Nemes. Both films had budgets of $10 million — a record amount for local movies.

The rising standard of Hungarian filmmaking has started to be recognized by Hollywood. Next year local director Kornel Mundruczo, whose previous films “White God” and “Jupiter’s Moon” were backed by the fund, will start production in Hungary on MGM’s “Deeper.” It’s being seen as a sign that local film talent is able to play at the highest level on the global stage.

Pioneer Stillking Films is proving production services on the film. “We are very proud of Kornel,” says Stillking’s Ildiko Kemeny.

More Artisans

  • Stone, guitarist for Taiwanese pop band

    Mayday Guitarist, Stone Rallies Fans at Singapore Film Festival

    Stone, the Taiwanese performer who has gone from being the guitarist in Mayday to a promising acting career, drew crowds on Friday, the first full day of the Singapore International Film Festival. Speaking at Projector, the indie theater inside the historical Golden Mile building, some two hundred fans gathered to hear the artist share career [...]

  • The Lion King

    ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘The Lion King’ Are Among Big Winners at HPA Awards

    Disney’s “The Lion King” (pictured) won for best theatrical feature and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” took home two prizes at the 14th annual awards of the Hollywood Professional Association at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Thursday evening. The HPA Awards, which honor a range of individuals and companies exhibiting exceptional storytelling talent, [...]

  • Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers

    How Mr. Rogers Influenced the Pacing of 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'

    Fred Rogers was an icon to many. Everyone who met him and knew him says, “He really was like that.” He spoke in a soft voice and he was kind. He believed in doing good to others. He spoke to children in “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in a soft voice, helping them to process complicated emotions [...]

  • The Aeronauts

    How Lee Walpole Created Complete Sonic Immersion for 'The Aeronauts'

    For Lee Walpole, sound mixing and editing for “The Aeronauts” was about cause and effect. “If she (Felicity Jones) pulls a line in the basket, the line must affect the balloon and they get picked up by the wind. It’s cause and effect. You hear a wisp of wind, you hear a flutter of the [...]

  • Frozen 2

    How the 'Frozen' Music Team Helped Move the Story Forward in Disney's Sequel

    With Disney’s 2013 “Frozen” ranking as the highest-grossing animated film of all time and its Oscar-winning song “Let It Go” now an iconic empowerment anthem, how can the filmmakers and songwriters, reunited for “Frozen 2,” top the tale of sisters Elsa and Anna? “It was all about wanting to tell more of the story,” explains co-director [...]

  • Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd Jay Roach Bombshell

    Jay Roach on How 'Bombshell' Production Crew Re-Created Roger Ailes-Era Fox News

    “Bombshell” is a fast-moving exploration of the oppressive atmosphere at Fox News in 2016, when Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and eventually, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) brought down Roger Ailes. Considering more than 200 scenes were shot over 38 days, the film has an impressive runtime of 1:45. Director Jay Roach credits the work of his [...]

  • Mindy Kaling photographed by Victoria Stevens

    Mindy Kaling to Host 22nd Costume Designers Guild Awards

    Mindy Kaling announced Wednesday that she will host the 22nd Costume Designers Guild Awards. “I’m thrilled to be hosting the Costumes Designers Guild Awards. Costume design and fashion are close to my heart, and I promise many, possibly too many, outfit changes,” Kaling wrote on Instagram. View this post on Instagram Hey guys! I’m so [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content