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Hungarian Film Week to show Szabo's latest film

The 37th Annual Hungarian Film Week, or "Magyar Filmszemle" (Film Survey) as it is officially known, opens the curtain on February 1st and will continue for five days thereafter, during which an overview of the entire preceding year's film production -- both features and shorts -- will be presented.

There are actually very few such exclusively national festivals (most of them in former Communist bloc countries) showing the entire film production each year of a relatively small country at one fall swoop. Among such festivals, the Magyar Film Szemle, which has undergone numerous ups and downs and venue changes in its lifetime -- some for political reasons under Communism, others for purely economic and organizational reasons since The Fall of Communism, or "the changes" as they are referred to here -- has now settled into a fairly comfortable niche with a stable projection venue at the up-scale Mammut Shopping-Mall Cineplex cinemas and convenient housing in the stately (if slightly decaying) Astoria Hotel for visiting foreign press and festival reps.

Whereas last year long-established senior directors were conspicuously absent from the line-up -- resulting in a rather lack-lustre year -- this year finds several such veterans back in action, most notably among them, Istvan Szabo (who will turn 67 on February 18th). Szabo's latest film -- (his first Hungarian language film since 1992!) -- is entitled "Rokoknok" (Relatives) and is based on a popular novel by Zsigmond Moricz, published in 1932, dealing with life in a provincial city. This is actually the second filmization of the Moricz novel (the earlier screen version surfaced in 1954), an indication of its lasting appeal for Hungarians.

During the past decade Szabo has preferred to work primarily in English with English speaking actors in leading roles: Annette Bening in "Being Julia" (2OO4), Harvey Keitel, in "Taking Sides" (2OO1), and Ralph Fiennes in "Sunshine" (1999) -- all major films which traveled far and wide beyond the borders of Hungary and were seen at many major festivals. Since Szabo is just about in a class of his own amongst Hungarian film directors, and generally recognized as one of the leading film directors world-wide ( his
"Mephisto" was awarded the best foreign language film at the Oscars in 1982), expectations regarding his first Hungarian language film since 1992 are unusually high. Featured in "Rokoknok" are three Hungarian actors of note: Sándor Csányi who was the star of the much acclaimed "Kontrol" (2OO3) and is currently the hottest leading man in Hungarian film, Erika Marozsán, the beauteous star of "Gloomy Sunday" (1999), and Károly Eperjes, who has often been called the Hungarian answer to Robert De Niro.

Alex Deleon





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