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4Oth Hungarian Film Week Set to Open

The 4Oth Hungarian Film Revue (Magyar Filmszemle) will open as usual at the Congress Center Hall in Budapest on Tuesday evening, January 27, 2OO9.  What is a bit unusual is that the festival organizers have reserved the hall for the entire five days of the run and have generally given the festival a bit of a facelift and a slight geographic moveover.  The Congress Center with its extensive guest facilities has usually served as an opening night venue only. This year, however, says Elisabeth Tóth, general secretary of the Hungarian Film Foundation, "In the 8Os this venue had a particular atmosphere which we would like to revive".

Eighteen feature films will compete for prizes this year, backed up by 3O short fiction films and 32 documentaries -- traditional strong areas of Hungaryian filmmaking.  Heralded with strong advance buzz are "Valami Amerika II", Gabor Herendi's follow up to Number One, a comedy that has been one of the biggest box office successes of recent years. The titles means "Some kind of Amerika" and takes a comical view of various kinds of American influences which currently pervade the Hungarian scene. Those who have already seen Valami Amerika II seem to be in agreement that it is even funnier than its predecessor. Another film to watch for is Krisztina Goda's "Kameleon" which is her followup to the runaway boxoffice hit two years ago, "Sex and Nothing But!". 

Peter Bacsó, born 1928, is by far the oldest director with a film in competition, and is, indeed, at 81 one of the oldest Hungarian directors still active, although Makk and Jancsó, both over eighty, have not yet officially thrown in the sponge. One thing missing this year is another Jancsó entry in the series of low budget comedies he has been making nearly every year since 1999.  Veteran Livia Gyarmathy, born 1932, who was last in action with a documentary in 2OO3, is back with a feature, "Little Fish --Big Fish", and Árpád Sopsits, who at 56 belongs more or less to the middle generation of Hungarian fiilmmakers, is back with a film entitled "The Seventh Circle".  Sopsits can usually be counted on to make off beat films that bend the accepted envelope.  The remainder is a long list of relative unknown names and new faces, promising novelty if nothing else.
Márta Mészáros, 77, a veteran Hungarian director with some sixty films to her credit, long based in Poland, will preside over the feature film jury which will also include expat Hollywood Hungarian cameraman Vilmos Zsigmond (78).  The fortieth anniversary edition will be opened by Hungary's grand dame of the screen, actress Mari Törőcsik, 73. The aging star was recently hospitalized in a comatose condition with fears for her survival, but made a spectacular recovery. The opening ceremony will be followed by the world premiere of a new film by Bálint Kenyeres entitled "The History of Aviation". (A Repülés története). Since Kenyeres is a mere thirty-two, his youth will, presumably, offset the geriatric aura which might otherwise be expected to prevail. The title of his film is also enticing since one does not generally associate Hungary with aviation pioneering --or, will we find out that Howard Hughes had hidden Hungarian roots ...
by Alex Deleon, for


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