Hungarian cinematography reliving glorious times at foreign film festivals
Hungarian film has a rich tradition, but in recent years the country's cinematography - mainly due to a lack of funding and a lack of inspiring subject matter - has failed to impress film critics. But those days appear to be over. Hungarian films seem to have regained a voice of their own and are becoming increasingly popular with Hungarians and festival audiences abroad.
This autumn Hungary is well represented at international film festivals and its productions have scored some success. Besides Fateless based on the novel by Nobel prize winning author Imre Kertesz and directed by Academy Award winning director of photography Lajos Koltai, or Unburied Man by Marta Meszaros, a profile of Hungary's 1956 martyr prime minister Imre Nagy, new films are also winning prizes. Eva Vezer is the head of the Hungarian Film Union:
"The Porcelain Doll, which has just been released in Budapest, was screened at the Vancouver Film Festival and it will also be featured at festivals in other parts of the world, including South Korea, where some other important Hungarian films will also be screened."
It's a film by Peter Gardos...
"Yes. It is based on the novel by Ervin Lazar - three short stories told within a feature film. It's a very nicely made film. You may recall that it was the Foreign Critics' favourite at the Hungarian film week this year. But in South Korea, Hungarian films are well represented because Fateless is going to be screened there and Marta Meszaros' Unburied Man, about the life of Imre Nagy will be on show too. We just heard from Prague that Rose's Song got the Golden Menorah."
What about Chicago?
"The Chicago festival - October 6-20 - is screening Johanna by Kornel Mundruczo, which is competing for the Golden Hugo award. There's also a very important section, the New Directors section, in which Black Brush and Fateless are going to be screened."
'Being Julia' by Istvan Szabo has got recognition too...
"Yes. Last weekend at the Bordeaux festival in France, it got the Best Actress award and also the Audience award. Annette Bening is really one of the favourites - she also got the Golden Globe award for this performance."
What has changed? What has made Hungarian films successful again?
"There is definitely an emerging new generation that has created new interest. With the success of some of their films, the whole of Hungarian cinema became interesting again and different places around the world now focus on it."
Do you think the film law, which Hungarian cinematography had lacked for years or even decades, but has now been introduced also promotes Hungarian movies?
"Well, the film law definitely led to Hungary being discussed, when it comes to the film industry. But the film law is primarily for film production and services. The Film Union has in recent years worked hard to strengthen the promotion of Hungarian film. We try to be everywhere and become members of promotional organisations such as the European Film Promotion, where we are working together with some sister companies in Europe, in order to have a more concentrated presence."
Eva Vezer says, despite the rising popularity of Hungarian films, admission figures remain low in Hungary. This can be attributed to the growing popularity of home entertainment facilities.