The 41st Hungarian Film Week was organized in early February again this year. 48.015 visitors were interested in Hungarian films, this is less than last year’s record attendance. However, at the same time there were more favorites attracting larger audience. Co-production were the winners this year.
The 41st Hungarian Film Week was organized in early February again this year. 48.015 visitors were interested in Hungarian films, this is less than last year’s record attendance. However, at the same time there were more favorites attracting larger audience.
In keeping with the times, the Hungarian Film Week also had a budget cut this year, which meant that the opening and closing ceremonies were not held in the Budapest Congress Centre as they were in the previous years. This year, the motto of the festival was ‘Strictly cinema!’. The title allowed organizers to arrange the opening ceremony half-live. They put the ceremony on screens before playing the opening film, Miklos Jancso’s ‘So much for justice!’ in Palace Mom Park Cinemas projection rooms – the main venue of the festival screenings.
However, the Minister for Culture and Education, Istvan Hiller declared at the closing gala that the government and the Motion Picture Public Foundation of Hungary (MMKA) agreed that in the next three years, MMKA is going to receive slightly growing sums of money for financing Hungarian films.
“It may sound surprising in the middle of these economic difficulties to say that 2009 was a good year for Hungarian film-makers” stated cinematographer Emil Novak, Chairman of the Board of the 41st Hungarian Film Week. He remained positive about 2009: “Of course, that doesn’t mean that film-making was an easy process, financially speaking. But one thing is for sure: superb works of art were produced by prominent and recognized film-makers as well as young talents coming out with their first films.”
Altogether, 95 films competed in five categories (feature, short, documentary, science, television) including 16 new feature films running for the Golden Reel Award. Speaking about the themes, Gyorgy Granasztoi, chairman of the jury in the feature film category, was confident that “this year, we saw less brutality and violence then last year, which is very good. But on the other hand, foul language really disturbed me. It might be due to my age, too, but I believe this is not only a problem of taste. There is litter around us but we do not make films out of it.” He also pointed out that this year, some prize-winning films were made in co-production and this foreign influence always added to their quality. “New themes have arisen this year, many films show the meeting of Hungarian and other cultures. I am really for filmmakers collaborating with neighboring cultures. In the future, too, this can be a great powerful source of the Hungarian film, it can bring – as it has done this time – very interesting, fresh points of view.”
The Western world myth wears off
The Golden Reel award this year was given to Szabolcs Hajdu’s Bibliotheque Pascal. The film also received the Gene Moskowitz Prize awarded by the foreign critics and the Best Cinematography prize, as well.
Bibliothéque Pascal is an international movie, a Hungarian-German co-production shot in Romania and Hungary with Romanian, Canadian and Hungarian actors. The film received European attention at the 60th Berlin Film Festival in February, too; it was invited as the only Hungarian film in the Forum section. “They liked the film in Berlin, it received loud applause and recognition” director Szabolcs Hajdu commented on the success.
Bibliotheque Pascal is in Budapest movie theaters from March 18. Although, the director is a bit afraid of the Hungarian film-goers’ reaction, he felt really relieved when he received the Golden Reel. “Last night, at the premiere, I felt we jumped into a swimming pool where the water reached only up to the knees. It was something similar to a heart transplant: I took a sensitive, vulnerable thing out of myself and put into the body of the audience. I did not know what their reaction was going to be. The film might have faced absolute rejection. I can say now, it found its audience.”
Hajdu had ambivalent feelings due to the extremely new forms and techniques they use and the theme of the film, too. “We tell a story but in a different way from how it is usually told. None of the scenes follow film-language conventions.”
The theme of the film is quite shocking. “Five years ago, I lived in a Romanian city, where each day I was astonished yet again by this strange Balkan world, where gypsies’ horses freeze outside in minus 30 degrees, where Orthodox priests drive a black Audi and distribute blessings and curses in return for geese, eggs or sums of money.” The story of the young woman lured abroad to become a sex slave was told to Hajdu by the buffet girl in a theater, who travelled along the same road as Mona, the main character of the film.
“The aspect that truly interested me in Mona’s story is the perpetual conflict between her inner self and the world around her. My film is not about a victim. She is the director of her own life and it is her responsibility to choose from among possible alternatives.” Through her story, Hajdu is indirectly talking about himself and others who seek love, friends; people who long for work that can be done with joy and pays well, too; people who are unsure of how to manage their future and should be feeling responsibility for their actions.
“Pascal’s Bibliotheque is a segment of the outside world, a bizarre night club catering to the most refined and sensitive tastes. The metaphoric overtone is just as important, which indirectly targets its own subculture: the sated western – nowadays, not only western – intelligentsia whose deadened sensors must be stimulated in overdrive” explains Hajdu. He adds “the film is also about artists who serve these people, who sell their talent to boost their careers and completely destroy the pure intentions of true culture.”
Thrilling film with hidden secrets
Another four-prize winner film is Question in details (Kontorfalak). It received Best Director (ex-aequo), Best actor (Ferenc Elek), Best editor and People’s choice prize. It was not the film that most people saw at the festival but for sure, who saw it, voted for it. It is in cinemas from February 11.
The film is about one night. As a novelty in Hungarian filmmaking, it only works with three characters, similar to American independent movies as Sleuth (2007) or Tape (2001). Script writer and director Zsombor Dyga told Diplomacy and Trade that the film was continuously rejected by MMKA. “They could hardly decide whether it is an art film or a mainstream one. At last, it received Slovakian co-production support and also got the normative support of the producer Filmteam Studio for an earlier prize-winning film, so, after a long period of waiting, we could finish the film.”
The story in a nutshell: in present day Budapest, two strangers start talking on a date gone wrong. Two very different worlds meet and they just start getting to know each other when Eszti’s rude and self-righteous brother shows up. The evening takes an unexpected turn: the three strangers do not suspect that an old secret connects all three of them.
A world famous man of Hungary
This very exciting and plenteous documentary directed by Tamas Almasi gained the Director Prize of the Duna TV & MMKA (ex-aequo). What is more, Tamas Almasi in March received the Kossuth prize from the state. He was very proud and declared "this prize is not only for me but for the whole documentary profession" At the Film Week closing gala it was also highlighted that the film brings forward humaneness, exhilaration, good-temperedness. It is a comestible documentary which is easy to watch and follow.
The film is a spectacular, exciting and emotional portrayal of Ferenc Puskas, an ordinary young man from Kispest, a district of Budapest who became the brightest star in the football galaxy. He became a legend in his youth as the captain of the famous Golden Team, but adoration turned to persecution when he fled his homeland in 1956. His football skills enabled him to travel the world and he went to achieve just about everything that can be achieved on a football pitch. He is still greatly admired in Hungary, Spain, Greece, Australis and across the globe. He loved life and lived it to the full. He became the most famous Hungarian in the world.