Much has been made of Hungary’s new journalism laws, but as the debate continues to fill the column inches, coverage of cuts in other areas of the country’s media industry has been sorely lacking.
Last month the country’s film finance body, the Hungarian Public Picture Foundation, dealt a hefty blow to filmmaking in the country by diverting funds away from independent outfits and instead channelling them through two official ministries: the Ministry of National Development and the newly created Ministry of National Economy, which received over $13 million between them.
One of the major victims of these ill-thought out but seemingly European-wide arts cuts has been Hungary’s annual Film Week, which was forced to cancel its upcoming February date after parliament hastily slashed its budget by two thirds to $4.8 million.
After negotiations with government, a more low-key event – the 42nd in the festival’s history – will now go ahead in April but these unexpected cutbacks have left a sour taste in the mouths of many independent filmmakers who argue that the annual showcase is the only chance for them to parade their wares in front of an international audience of feted critics and curators.
Some respite, however, came yesterday when it was announced that Hungarian-born Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna was to be put in charge of distributing the National Economy fund.
With credits to his name including such Hollywood smashes as Basic Instinct, Evita and Die Hard, Vajna is generally regarded as an influential – if somewhat unadventurous – force within the industry. As long as he supports those making challenging and necessary cinema in his original homeland, his appointment could prove to be an inspired one.
Full details of Film Week are expected to be revealed on 15 February, but in the meantime pour yourself a Unicum and enjoy our selection of clips and trailers from some of Hungary’s greatest pictures: