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The Network - 10/11/2005


Éva Vezér, Magyar Filmunió (Hungary)


A meeting with Éva Vezér, director general of Magyar Filmunió, the organisation promoting Hungarian film abroad, on the occasion of the Europa Cinemas annual conference in Budapest.

How long has Magyar Filmunió been running and what is its role?

Magyar Filmunió was created in 1991 by the Motion Picture Public Foundation of Hungary to promote Hungarian films abroad. Its mission is to show Hungarian feature-length films, short films, documentaries and animated films at festivals and to organise events based on Hungarian cinema in other countries.
Magyar Filmunió manages the Eurimages office and Media Desk Hungary and has regular contact with professional institutions abroad.
Since 2001 the organisation has also been an active member of European Film Promotion, of which I am a director.
Since Hungary's admission into the European Union, Hungarian professionals have participated with much success in the MEDIA PLUS and MEDIA Training competitions. The exchange of information between Hungarian professionals and MEDIA is managed by Media Desk Hungary, led by Enikõ Kiss. The director of Magyar Filmunió is also a member of the MEDIA committee.

Do you think we can now speak of a renewed interest in Hungarian cinema?

Looking at the figures, it seems clear that, over the last few years, the activities of Magyar Filmunió have greatly contributed to the success of Hungarian films at festivals. For example, in 2001 we enabled Hungarian films to be shown at 185 festivals and cultural events. This represented 430 screenings, 80 of which were in competition, and the films shown received 39 awards. In 2004 a total of 850 screenings of Hungarian films took place, at 350 festivals and various events. 175 of these screenings were in competition and these films won 77 awards. We are expecting even greater results for 2005.
So we are seeing strong interest in Hungarian films, demonstrated for example by the growing number of special selections dedicated to them, such as very recently in Seville and Cottbus.
Recently, the most popular films have been Ibolya Fekete's Chico, Abandoned by Arpad Sopsits, Péter Gothár's Passport, György Pálfi's Hukkle, Benedek Fliegauf's Forest and Dealer, Kornél Mundruczó's Pleasant Days and Johanna, Attila Janish's After the Day Before and, of course, Nimród Antal's Control. Some of these filmmakers are very young and a new generation is being spawned. The success of short films also shows this, with, in particular Marcell Iványi's Wind and After Rain by Péter Mészáros, which won Short Film Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1996 and 2002 respectively. Not to mention the animated short films by Ferenc Cakó, or the films produced at Kecskemétfilm and Pannónia animation studios.
Within this landscape the work of Béla Tarr occupies a particular position, his vision and cinematographic language having already been written into the history of world cinema. His films are much sought-after for retrospectives but are, nevertheless, only scheduled in art house cinemas.

What place does Hungarian cinema occupy in its own country?

Hungarian cinema occupies the same place here as in most European countries. The market is dominated by American films and by the multiplexes. But we do have an effective network of art house cinemas (most of whom are members of Europa Cinemas). These schedule mainly Hungarian and European films and have steady and loyal viewers.
Hungarian films represent around 9.5% of the market. The main national successes are comedies, which do not necessarily export. Of course Control is the big exception.

Interview by Jean-Baptiste Selliez, November 2005