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Bokor Brigitta writes on Hungarian film events and film festivals


Ninth Hungarian Film Fest of LA Kicks Off with "Chameleon"






Hungarian films lined up at an annual Los Angeles film festival for already the ninth time in order to remind Hollywood of its Hungarian roots. Bunyik Entertainment presented a Krisztina Goda film, "Chameleon", the official Hungarian foreign-language submission for the 82nd Academy Awards on the opening night of this year's festival at Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex in Santa Monica, on November 5.  The famous Hungarian-American filmmaker Michael Curtiz, alias Kertesz Mihaly, who directed more then 150 films - "Casablanca", "Angels with Dirty Faces", "Yankee Doodle Dandy", "White Christmas", among others -   would be glad to know that the festival`s Audience Award bears his name. "Eszter's Inheritance" by Jozsef Sipos received the award last year, a film based on the novel of the world-famous Hungarian writer, who spent the last decade of his life in San Diego. In 2007, "56 Drops of Blood" by Attila Bokor, a film on the 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Soviets, had the honor to get the prize. The opening night marked the launching of a series of very challenging Hungarian films. In cooperation with the Raleigh Studios films like "Immigrants (L.A. Dolce Vita)" by Gabor Csupo, "Prima Primavera" by Janos Edelenyi, "Made in Hungaria" by Gergely Fonyo,  "A Kind of America 2" by Gabor Herendi, "The Sun Street Boys" by György Szomjas, "An American Rhapsody" by Eva Gardos and a dozen more will be showcased at the Studios' Chaplin Theatre. All these movies will highlight the richness of new Hungarian cinema.

Bela Bunyik of Bunyik Entertainment, founder of the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles, expressed his gratitude for the support of the Consulate General of Hungary in Los Angeles and the Raleigh Studios. He added that in these tough economic and financial times it would have been very hard to organize the festival without this support and that he is glad that the festival made it into its 9th year against all odds.

Ambassador Balazs Bokor, Consul General of Hungary in Los Angeles, said that one must be proud to be Hungarian in the Mecca of the film industry where Hungarians already proved that they are important film makers in the past and hopefully they will do that again in our days.

The audience received "Chameleon" with a warm welcome; laughter, expressions of disbelief at times reacting to the characters' unexpected behavior, and deep silent moments indicating the engagement of the audience were all part of the screening. The third feature from a UCLA-trained Hungarian director Krisztina Goda is an exciting comedy-drama about a con man discovering his true identity when he finally falls in love. Goda said that she can draw inspiration from anywhere; a news article, a good book, a theater performance, or even a conversation with a friend can be the source of inspiration. "If you have inspiration, it makes your work easier, but in this field you cannot just sit around and wait to get inspired. You have to do your work even when you don't feel like it at all." Concerning the future of her film, the young Hungarian director is glad that the film received good reviews in professional magazines and was very popular at different international screenings so far, yet finds it hard to predict what will come next and how it will perform at the Academy Awards. "There are many exceptional films participating this year and it is an honor for me simply just to have Chameleon in the competition."

The opening night ended with a cheerful after party at the residence of the Consul General in Bel Air Crest with numerous well-known faces of the film industry. The host thanked the Raleigh Studios for hosting the festival in its Chaplin Theatre. He also welcomed the latest news released at the day of the film festival's opening night that the largest independent studio operator in the US, Raleigh Studios, is currently expanding into Hungary with a $70-million project: nine sound stages totaling 180,907 square feet on the outskirts of Budapest, Hungary, will be opened next spring. "It is going to be the finest studio on the continent," said Michael Moore, president of Raleigh Studios. "It will be truly run like a Hollywood studio." Now Hungary is enjoying a sharp rise in interest from filmmakers, thanks to investment in new studios and a tax credit that covers up to 25% of production costs, making it one of the most generous in Europe.

Movies filmed in Hungary this year include Lionsgate's "Season of the Witch," starring Nicolas Cage; Miramax's "The Debt," starring Helen Mirren; and Focus Features' "The Eagle of the Ninth."

The Bel Air Crest guests also witnessed the presentation of a Career Achievement Award to Hungarian-born, award-winning animation artist Gabor Csupo. Csupo's career began in Hungary before moving to Sweden where he contributed to the production of Sweden's first animated feature.  After relocating from Europe to Hollywood in 1979, Csupo co-developed, produced and animated the phenomenally successful Rugrats series, the most popular children's show in the United States, in addition to producing and animating such distinguished series as The Simpsons, Duckman and As Told By Ginger. His documentary film "Immigrants (L.A. Dolce Vita) ", a film festival favorite, will have its US premiere at the Hungarian Film Festival on November 13th.

Among the happenings at the reception was an official announcement that Ascent Media's Global Media Exchange (GMX), the world's fastest-growing online marketplace for buying and selling film rights started a partnership with the Consulate General of Hungary and Bunyik Entertainment, founder of the Hungarian Film Festival. The intended partnership makes the Hungarian Film Festival the first festival to premiere on the new GMX platform.

Among the many guests at the Bel Air Crest reception were Andrew G. Vajna, Hungarian film producer; Ivan Kamaras, famous Hungarian actor; Mara Sternthal, SVP of business development for GMX; and Nesim Hason, founder and president of New Films International.

This year, through the 9th Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Hungarian film returns to Hollywood in its full glory and entertains those interested with a wide selection of Hungarian films.

by Brigitta Bokor

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Bokor Brigitta

Bllogging from Budapest.

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