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An Interview with Hungarian Film Producer Gábor Kálomista

Gábor Kálomista is the president of the Association of Hungarian Producers. He produced over 20 movies and one of his latest is "Chameleon", directed by Krisztina Goda. The movie has been selected as the official Hungarian entry for the 82nd Academy Awards and is also in competition for the 67th Golden Globe Awards. "Chameleon" will be screened at the opening night of the 9th Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles starting on November 5, 2009.

1) "A Country Stabbed in the Heart", "Immigrants (L.A. Dolce Vita)", "Chameleon", "Just Sex and Nothing Else" - these are only a few of the many titles/movies that you produced. You can't help but notice how different your films are. What are you interested in the most as a producer?

I'm interested in pretty much everything. Good plots, interesting stories - anything that is worth putting on the screen, anything that has some value.

2) Currently there is a campaign going on to promote "Chameleon". The annual American Film Market starts November 4th and the 9th Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles, where "Chameleon" will be screened on the opening night, will begin a day later, on the 5th of November. "Chameleon" is the official Hungarian entry for the 82nd Academy Awards and it is also in competition for the 67th Golden Globe. Do you think it is a fortunate coincidence that the movie will participate in both events? Do you think this is beneficial for the film and supports its success, or do you think it may not be the best to have this movie in both competitions? How can you make the most of this campaign? How is this campaign different than those of other smaller countries? How could it be even better?

We are very happy to see "Chameleon" gradually fulfilling our hopes. We strived to make a film that could achieve international success and did not spare anything out of it. We wanted it to be popular, not only domestically but abroad as well. "Children of Glory" and "Just Sex and Nothing Else", two of the director Krisztina Goda's previous movies, were already big box office hits and it's about time that this success is acknowledged internationally. The campaign around "Chameleon" is a whole lot different than previous Hungarian campaigns. To some extent, Hungarian films were like orphans until now who could not really stand up against their international rivals. We work with American consulting firms abroad and try to make the most out of what we have by using ways that already worked in the US.

3) Next year will mark a significant event in Hungary as one of the largest independent film studios of the US, Raleigh Studios, plans to expand into Hungary and open a monumental new studio there. How do you think this will effect Hungarian film production?

Every new studio brings more job opportunities for the Hungarian film industry, and thus we wholeheartedly welcome the idea. Many European countries strive to lure more new studios within their borders and it is a very positive thing that this process has started in Hungary, too. At the same time, it is difficult to estimate the effects this event will have on Hungarian film production as the industry is facing hardships. The Hungarian film professionals are well-known for their expertise and since this event will create new ways for these professionals to prevail, the arrival of this new studio will be even more embraced.

4) A nation's film industry is often representative of the country itself. Hungarian film production, like the country itself, is among the smaller ones. What steps do you think would be necessary to take in order to unite Hungarian film production and to reflect a stronger image of our film industry?

First and foremost, we would need more funding. A new way of thinking in the industry would also be helpful: as we can see, the really successful contemporary Hungarian movies are not made by the freshly graduated students of the University of Theater, Film and Television of Budapest but rather by people like Krisztina Goda, who studied in the US, or Gábor Herendi, who turned into a film director after being a dentist. There is a dire need to transform the attitudes and methodologies used in education, too. At the same time, we have to learn to accept the fact that we need fewer movies but the resources we have should be better divided among these films to achieve greater success.

by Brigitta Bokor

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