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ALEX FARBA


 

Alex Farba Deleon is a filmfestivals.com ambassador

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Filmarchivum 60, The Budapest Classics Marathon A Fully Packed Long Weekend

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      By Alex Delon-Oroszlányi
 
Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hungarian Film Archive an important part of whose work is the restoration of classic films, forty two digitally restored films from here and abroad were screened in a three day marathon from Friday Nov. 4 through Sunday Nov. 6, at the stately old Corvina Mozi, itself a landmark of cinema architecture.
Among the films a sampling of six features by Hungarian master director Zoltán Fábri (1917-1994) whose peak years were 1956 to 1968 during which six of his films now regarded as landmarks of the Hungarian cinema are on view.
 The Marathon opened with an invitational gala screening of Fábri's 1956 masterpiece "Körhinta" (Merry-go-round) at the stately Urania film cathedral then moved over to the Corvina for the rest of the run. 
Most films, even those from other countries (UK, France, etc.) in  languages other than Hungarian, had some kind of Hungarian connection in the production, whether producer, director, writer or other, and all original Hungarian films were subtitled in English.
The earliest film was a rediscovered silent from from 1919 directed by non other than Mihály Kertész, better known as Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca.
 
Among non-Hungarian films with Hungarian connections:
The Red Shoes; co-director Emeric (Imre) Pressburger of the Archers team "Powell and Pressburger" was a native Hungarian; To Be Or Not To Be (USA, 1942) was lensed by  Hungarian born Rudolph Maté ; Billy Wilder's postwar comedy "One, Two, Three" (1961) was scripted by the famous Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar; the 1958 French remake of "Mädchen in Uniform" starring Romy Schneider, was directed by Hungaria  Géza von Radványi; Jacques Tati's 1967 French comedy was photographed by Hungarian cameraman János Badal; the 1969 British war drama "Play Dirty" starring Michael Caine was directed by Hungarian André De Toth (Toth Endre) who migrated to Hollywood where he filmed the first great 3D film House of Wax and a number of highly regarded Film noirs, and finally, the 1938 French melodrama "Retour à l'aube" (She returned at dawn) was the debut of future French superstar Danielle Darrieux and was set and filmed in Hungary with music supplied by Hungarian Gypsies.
 
Two documentaries show Budapest before and after the war and the new French Documentary "Lumière", directed by Thierry Frémaux who has been the director of the Cannes Film Festival since 2000, is a carefully culled selection of several dozen mini films (one minute each, more or less) made by the Lumière Bothers around 1897, the very first "motion pictures" including the legendary footage of "A train entering the station" which marked the birth of today's film industries.  We see lots of horse drawn vehicles and glimpses of the world as far away as Viet Nam (then a French colony) at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Many landmark Hungarian films, pre and post-war, are included to round out a fully packed long weekend in Budapest giving new meaning to the term "l'embarras de choix" (too much to choose from!).
The Marathon closed Appropriately with a fully restored copy, original musical sound track and all, of the most famous silent film of them all, Fritz Lang's dizzying Monumental futuristic 1928 dystopia  METROPOLIS. 
gersbach.net