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Filming in Hungary: Blog

Follow our blog to stay up to date in the topics related to the Hungarian film industry, film production in Hungary, and filming in Hungary.

The Styles of 1918 Budapest and Beyond

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With Hungarian fashion label Nanushka making news with its increasingly global presence, we thought it might be interesting to look back at the roots of Hungarian fashion. All the photos below are from 100 years ago, in 1918. If anything, this proves that Hungarians were, and still are, a fashionable people. From street kids to country aristocrats, dress was taken seriously.

All the photos below are from the Fortepan collection, which can be found here.

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Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

The International Conspiracy Against Hungarian Gulash (Gulyás)

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Sometimes Hungary gets attention for all the wrong reasons. In this case, it's because somebody who is not Hungarian decided they were going to teach the world how to make gulyás, Hungary's unofficial national dish. Needless to say, it hasn't gone well. The touchingly naive video, on offer below, which has been making the rounds on local media, has been subject to a lot of snark. The reasons for derision are obvious to anybody who has an even passing knowledge of Hungarian cuisine, as the host sets out to teach the expectant home cooks of the Internet how to make Hungarian gulyás (gulash, as it is known internationally). It does not bode well when at the beginning Chef Dave from Dave’s Kitchen claims the main ingredient is hamburger meat. This of course will come as a surprise to cooks all over Hungary, who do use beef, though it comes in the form of cubes that will ideally be cooked until tender in a bogrács, which is a cauldron set over an open fire. His next offense follows soon after, insisting tomato sauce is also a primary component. True, tomatoes go in gulyás, but the bright vibrant red tint comes from the healthy amount of dry paprika the country prides itself on.

 via Lily 15/ Wikipedia Commons

via Lily 15/ Wikipedia Commons

We’d like to say Dave gets on the right track after that, but he continues to maul the recipe of Hungary’s most famous dish by adding soy sauce, and more bizarrely and non-Hungarian, Worcestershire sauce.

We are not here to provide any authoritative recipe or method for cooking gulyás, as both these things vary depending on the region and chef. That said, we did ask a Hungarian food expert to chime in. Judit Szöllősi, who runs food tours in Budapest out of her company Budapest 101 had this to say: “Some key ingredients that you definitely need for a goulash soup: lard, onion, beef, good quality sweet paprika, caraway seed, carrots, parsley root, potatoes. Of course the recipes differ in every family. And to have the best goulash experience you must serve it with excellent sourdough bread made of white flour.”

While the video is not exactly an international incident, it is a misuse of the name gulyás. And who knows why foreign adaptations of the dish translate it into anything but a soup. Maybe they had to compensate for lack of proper paprika that makes the broth so savory and spicy. Or perhaps it is for a more mundane reason: “My first reaction to the video was like,” continues J.Sz, "‘what are they doing? This is disgusting and an abomination!’ Then my second reaction was: ‘You know what? Maybe this dish is closer to the real goulash than we think’. Goulash, or gulyás, as we spell it, means a cowboy, the guys looking after the cows. And these guys, just like people working on the land, were poor as hell, and could never afford beef, therefore they never had a goulash! They probably often cooked some simple ingredients together on the open fire, whatever was available. And the dish in the video looks exactly like that: let's see what's available in the pantry, and let's make something simple but filling and comforting.”

North Americans are not the only offenders. The adaptation of gulyás by Czechs also yields a very un-gulyás-like guylás. But less like the North American casserole, the Czech gulash is stew-like in appearance and texture, and instead of the pasta that may accompany Hungarian gulyás, you will find bready dumplings to soak up the thick gravy. Back to Judit: “Today the word goulash is confusing. What foreigners usually call goulash is a beef stew with paprika in it, and we call it pörkölt. When Hungarians say gulyás, they mean a hearty soup made of beef, paprika, but also some root vegetables, potatoes, and often even a handmade fresh pasta. Many people say it's only good when it's made over open fire in a caldron, and you definitely can't make just one or two portions of it.”

However you stir it, if you want authentic gulyás, we recommend you visit Hungary or one of its former territories. In the meantime, enjoy the video.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hungarian "One Day" Premieres at 2018 Cannes Film Festival

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 Zsófia Szamosi in One Day

Zsófia Szamosi in One Day

Much has been made of Hungarian film in recent years, with the huge international success of features like Son of Saul, and On Body and Soul, both of which garnered the top industry awards, with an Oscar for the former and Golden Bear for the later. It appears there may be another huge success on the horizon with the debut of one of On Body and Soul director's former students, Zsófia Szilágyi. The young director is getting lots of positive attention and reviews as her feature Egy Nap, or One Day, premiered this week in the Semaine de la Critique, or the “Critics’s Week” section of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

According to the film’s press material, One Day deals with the mounting stress put on a mother and wife over the course of a single day. “Anna (Zsófia Szamosi) is constantly running around – from work to the nursery, to school, to ballet, to fencing class. As if this wasn’t enough, she suspects that her husband is cheating on her. Her issues are hardly unique, but she has simply no time to stop and think them through. They build up relentlessly, threatening to crush her. Carrying on takes more energy than she has left. Will she be able to save what’s fragile and unique in her life?”

In her director’s notes Szilágyi writes: “Slowly and consistently, the film shows — from her viewpoint — how Anna’s day marches on. It is this very perspective and the handling of time that make up the film’s core. We do not elegantly pass by certain repetitive actions and we do not change our perspective either. We go through them, just like she has to. Neither she, nor we can avoid them. The film tells about everyday time and the forceful nature of routine.”

Astute readers and film fans will recognize the name and face of lead actor Zsófia Szamosi, who also starred as the authoritarian choir teacher in “Sing”, another Hungarian film to achieve success, winning an Oscar in the Best Foreign Short category.

The Hollywood Reporter called One Day “intense”, praising its camerawork and screenplay, as well as Szamosi’s portrayal of a woman at loose ends. Screen Daily called it an “unexpectedly powerful drama…” and said “Szilágyi delivers a sympathetic women’s movie that makes the car chases and shootouts of the classic action genre look like the easy option compared to the challenge of holding down three kids, a job and a wayward husband.”

Only time will tell if One Day has the power and momentum to follow in the footsteps of Son of Saul and On Body and Soul. But a strong showing at Cannes, and positive critical notices are a great indication that this is one Hungarian film to keep an eye on.

Below find the trailer for One Day.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

 

 

Budapest Through the Eyes of Guide Book Author András Török

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Below is an interview with guide book author and tour guide András Török, whose book A Critical Guide to Budapest is a cult favorite with travelers and locals alike who want a more in depth and off-beat guidebook to the city. As his answers indicate, he has a textured and authoritative view on Budapest and its culture, one you won't find in more run of the mill sources. We picked his brain a bit about some of the city's secret and not so secret locations.

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Flatpack: We typically see the same locations in Budapest, like the Chain Bridge, the State Opera House and Parliament, being used in films. What are some of the photogenic or otherwise atmospheric locations in Budapest that you have yet to see in international films?

Török: The Ganz-Mávag working-class housing-estate, in Joseph Town, near Népliget, the Wekerle Estate in Kispest, the Napraforgó utca villas. The little that remains of the Slaughterhouse, in District IX.

 Wekerle Estate. Credit: József Rozsnyai via Wikipedia Commons

Wekerle Estate. Credit: József Rozsnyai via Wikipedia Commons

Flatpack: Are there any under-recognized, or hidden gems for tourists and locals alike to visit?

Török: The Budapest Music Center, the Liszt Museum, Epreskert, where sculptors are trained in Theresa Town (District 6), Brody Studios (members only club), Károlyi kert (District 5).

Flatpack: How do tourists’ impressions of Budapest differ from your own?

Török: It was too long ago, but Paul Newman was flabbergasted: "How could I overlook that gem of Europe so long?" he asked. He nagged me about the details: How could poor Hungary in the 1950s be preoccupied with the costly rebuilding of the Royal Palace? (In such a cheap manner?)

Flatpack: What is the most romantic spot in the city, for say, a proposal?

Török: Obviously Fisherman’s Bastion, or the stairs of the National Museum.

 Photo by Tamas Thaler via Wikipedia Commons

Photo by Tamas Thaler via Wikipedia Commons

Flatpack: If the city were a celebrity, who would it be? And why?

Török: Jeremy Irons. Old, but youthful, trendy, still capable of enticing ladies.

Flatpack: What’s the most vibrant, up-and-coming neighborhood?

Török: Joseph Town (District 8), in and out of the Grand Boulevard (not the rust belt part).

 Joseph Town via Wikipedia Commons

Joseph Town via Wikipedia Commons

Flatpack: What’s the top culinary experience for somebody visiting the city?

Török: The gallery part of Hold Utca Market: "street food with a difference”.

Flatpack: Has there been a significant difference in the type of tourist you see in the city these days, as opposed to when the book came out?

Török: Oh yes, wildly different.

a.) city hoppers – affluent couples (often gay – a great market!)

b.) stag party tourists – despicable, but numerous

c.) large families with kids of all ages

d.) conference tourists, getting out of boring lectures, enjoying the city

e.) affluent senior groups, often octogenarians

f.) Viking Tour tourists, sleeping on the ship, their buses are everywhere

g.) travelers, discovering the city by themselves, often off the beaten path.

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Flatpack: Do you have a strong interest in an historical figure the non-Hungarian readers might not be familiar with?

Török: Artur Görgey, commander in chief of the Hungarian rebel troupes in 1849, who actually defeated the Austrians, but was beaten by the troupes of the tsar. He symbolically lay down arms to the Russian troupes. His life was spared, but the rebel leaders blamed him for the defeat. Gullible Hungarians wanted a cheap explanation, and could not take the bitter pill, so they believed populist Lajos Kossuth, the governor, and considered Görgey a traitor for a long long tile. God punished Görgey with a very long life. He died late in 1916. His statue is in Castle Hill, on the western edge, away from the river. (Re-erected in 1998.)

Flatpack: You have a lecture called ‘What Makes Hungarians Tick’. Is there aspect to the Hungarian mindset that might be unique and is easy to put in words here?

Török: Money, power, family, sex. Like other nations, but possibly in another order.

Most Hungarians think they are special… They are never to be blamed for the problems of the country. It’s the Turks, the Austrians, Moscow, Brussels(!) and nowadays Mr. Soros.

They think Hungarian is the most beautiful language, and they are the most hospitable.

Hungarians hate competition, love excessive drinking, and greasy food. They suffer from an unfounded superiority complex.

Sad… As the US President would say.

Flatpack: Is there a film, be it Hungarian or foreign, that captures the essence of the city?

Török: Not yet.

Flatpack: Tell the Budapest-curious readers about your book; how has it evolved with revisions?

Török: Budapest Critical Guide evolved a lot since it was published first in 1989. There are (old) photos in it as well, the modern developments are more emphasized. In the first edition there was a blind lottery ticket lady, where you could leave massages and little parcels for others to pick up. In the pre-mobile-phone times… The cover has changed some seven times.

See my specialized website:

www.budapest-criticalguide.hu

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Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

 

Interview with Flatpack Collaborator Lorand Banner Szucs

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Below is an interview with casting director and film director Lorand Banner Szűcs, who in addition to working with Flatpack on numerous projects, recently collaborated with us on the Indian feature length film Raabta, a portion of which was filmed in Hungary. We reprint this interview from Cult Critic magazine with their permission. The interviewer was writer/director Helen Wheels. Much of the interview pertains to Banner Szűcs's film Sandwich, which recently won both the Best Picture and Best Narrative Short awards at the Los Angeles Film Awards.

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Banner Szűcs was born in Hungary at a time when independent filmmaking was “barely tolerated” because it was viewed a “threat to the regime;” however, by the time he started high school, filmmaking was being taught in the classroom.

Cult Critic: According to your biography, you started learning about filmmaking in a series of summer classes, where you produced your first short film. Please tell us about that experience. How old were you at the time?

Szűcs: It was a very exciting time when lots of young people came together to learn about filmmaking and theatre. I’m grateful to fate for putting me on that path. Thinking back, I had a lot of classmates who have gone on to become major theatre actors, directors and set designers. It’s quite likely that we would have been pretty difficult students elsewhere, but the opportunity to express ourselves creatively helped us through our tough teens. The summer camps really were the highlight of our whole year, especially because we got to meet professional filmmakers, whose movies were being shown in cinemas all across the country. It really was a fabulous experience and the films we made here are some of my very best memories. Our first film was a crime story that took place on a bull farm but all done with a very sour humor.

The funny thing was that our head teacher was one of the most well-known comic actors in the country, he played the main character and he brought a lot to the movie. I especially remember the soundtrack that we recorded live during the shoot played on the violin by the world-renowned violinist Félix Lajkó. He was performing locally and staying at the same place as us. We asked him to play and he agreed. It was such an inspiring time.

Cult Critic: How did that series of summer classes lead to your 25-year career with MAFILM? What was your role in the company?

 Szűcs: I wasn’t even 18, and we were just coming to the end of one of our summer school sessions when I was asked if I would like to work on a proper feature film. I couldn’t believe my luck, it was like a dream come true, because, growing up in a small town, I always knew that I wanted to work in film, but I somehow always knew deep down that I didn’t stand the faintest chance. I didn’t really know anyone and it had all seemed like a fun hobby until then. Then, all of a sudden they said, “Come up to Budapest and work with us on a real film!” “What?” Of course, it didn’t take me a minute to pack my things and set off. I didn’t have anywhere to live, I didn’t have any friends in the city – all I knew was that I desperately wanted to work at the film studios. You asked me what happened over the last 25 years. It’s odd that I’ve never really realized that it’s been 25 years because the time has really flown by. I’ve worked on some incredible films and with some incredible people. I worked as a runner on the first two films, and I ran where I was told to. But that’s the way people learned the trade back then. I slowly started to make my way up the ladder, first as the second AD and then as the first AD. I worked on Hungarian and international movies one after the other, with the odd commercial in between. It was great and, even though I’ve not done it for a fair while now as I’ve been working on my own projects, it’s really good to look back on, and, now I think about it, I kind of miss it…

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Cult Critic: You mentioned in your bio that you studied abroad for a year in Australia. Please tell us a bit about your studies there and the effect it had on your sensibilities (if any) as a filmmaker.

Szűcs: I traveled to Australia for a number of reasons and one of them was that I was really tired and I needed to try something new. I was lucky to be working on a screenplay and the producers weren’t at all bothered where I wrote it, they just wanted to see it finished. That meant I could travel and write it “down under”. I really loved Australia, the people there are so friendly and laidback.

 Cult Critic: Upon returning to Hungary, you founded Banner Casting. What influenced that decision? Does your agency cast for commercial as well as narrative work? What are the differences (if any) between casting for commercial use and narrative? How does owning the agency feed into your own work as a filmmaker?

 Szűcs: I set Banner Casting up during a time of new beginnings when a whole lot of things were changing around me. My daughter had just been born, and I was looking for a new challenge in the industry. I think I’ve managed to achieve pretty much all I set out to achieve as we are now one of the leading casting companies in the country with dozens of movies and world campaigns to our name. Only last year we made two Indian films: “Jab Harry met Sejal” and “Raabta”. I can remember preparing to work with the great Shah Rukh Kahn and I sat down to watch “Happy New Year” – I was stunned! I particularly recall a seemingly simple scene when Paduka meets the guy in the bar. It’s an important dramatic moment although not perhaps the most significant, but it was like watching the opening ceremony at the Olympics. I really couldn’t believe my eyes, and the spectacle created would have been enough to make a whole Broadway musical. I adored it!

So, as you see, we work on some great projects and I’m pleased to say that we have been joined by new colleagues who perhaps see things a little differently to me and that’s a good thing because that brings a greater spectrum of color to what we do. This means that we have commissions on which I work as the senior casting director, where I keep a close eye on things and my people can come to me if they need my help, but I don’t interfere with every single decision. A fresh approach is always a good thing. Of course, projects still come along that I wouldn’t dream of letting out of my hands because they are either really close to my heart or the director is a close colleague who has specifically asked that I cast their film.

 From  Sandwich

From Sandwich

Cult Critic: What was the inspiration for your current film, “Sandwich”?

Szűcs: “Sandwich” is a film about love and empathy. It’s about a turning point, the kind of turning point that requires a lot of different factors to come together, and each and every scene encourages the viewer to make change happens in their life. Everything comes together that night to create change and that is a very rare and what I would even call a “blessed” moment. Similar moments occur to us all, and we either notice them or we don’t. If we do, they can bring meaningful change to our lives. The characters in my film choose to seize the opportunity, and that is what I set out to portray.

Cult Critic: The performances from your lead actor “The Captain” (Szabolcs Thuróczy) and young actress, “Dana” (Emma Bercovici) were phenomenal. As a director how did you work with your actors to inspire the performances that you and your actors achieved?

 Szűcs: I was very fortunate with my cast. Szabolcs is an old friend and an exemplary actor. He’s a star in Hungary and people love him. I think it is significant that he is a seasoned theatre actor and that worked very well in this film. Most of the scenes are set in a military facility, and it is always a challenge as a film director to maintain tension without changing the setting. That is when an actor’s experience of being locked into a stage set proves essential. He is also a leading film actor, so I really got the best of both worlds. Emma is a wonderfully talented child actor, with more experience by the day. It was very important for me to find the special kind of naivety that she possesses, still unspoiled by the profession that has the tendency to turn children into little adults. Truly talented child actors go back to being children when they come off set at the end of the day, and they are the only ones capable of bringing the characters of genuine children to the screen.

Cult Critic: I noticed layers of symbolism in your short film. Please describe some of your thoughts on the idea that a sandwich can act as a facilitator of empathy.

Szűcs: “Sandwich” does have a lot of layers, and, if I wanted to use big words, I would say that if a viewer turns to it with an open heart, they will understand the film’s message. The sandwich in the title of the film, without giving any spoilers, symbolizes life itself. A soldier and a refugee come together thanks to a simple sandwich, that would have gone otherwise unnoticed in everyday life. This sandwich changes everything, and so it symbolizes life for the various characters, each according to their individual situation…

Cult Critic: Another interesting aspect that I noted from your work is the idea that we can learn so much from a child. In what ways do you believe we can learn about the effects of our behavior, through the eyes of a child?

Szűcs: I have already mentioned that the birth of my daughter brought great change to my life. And I have learned something new from her every day since then. Children are incredibly intelligent, and I even sometimes think that she is the one raising me. I’ve often sat and watched her at a playground as she makes friends with kids she has never met before and is soon playing along happily with them. She’s good at it. I, on the other hand, often find myself looking at a child and have a bad feeling about them…making a judgment on them. They either play too roughly for my tastes or I just have a bad feeling about them…My daughter isn’t at all bothered, it’s just another playmate to her, and she never prejudges another based on appearance, skin color, hair color, or anything else that would see an adult form an instant opinion. In many ways, Voltaire provides a motto for this film, when he says:

“Prejudice is an opinion without judgment. Thus all over the world do people inspire children with all the opinions they desire before the children can judge.”

My daughter provided the inspiration for this film at a point in my life when I was becoming increasingly aware of how quick we are to prejudge others. And, in much the same way, we see the hardened character of the Captain open up and become more accepting and understanding of others. It takes a great deal of bravery to open our heart up to others and often appears a treacherous path for the psyche… but it’s worth it…

Cult Critic: I thoroughly enjoyed your film (after the initial heart-breaking opening scene). What are you currently working on and where can we find information about you and your work?

 Szűcs: Of course, the first thing on my agenda is to see “Sandwich” appear at as many festivals as possible. And I am very keen to see how audiences respond to it around the globe. But because it takes such a very long time to make a film, I don’t plan to dawdle and I am already planning my next movie that has been with me for a while now – this time a feature film. Hungarian film is, thankfully, enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment, that is good for audiences and filmmakers alike, and makes funding a little easier than in previous years. Fortunately, András Muhi is set to oversee my next film as producer ( Oscar-nominated) “Of Body and Soul”), and I am confident that this project will be ready in good time to present in Calcutta at the end of the next year. In the meantime, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Calcutta Cult Film Fest for selecting my film and I am very much looking forward to attending the award ceremony in December. Thank you India, thank you, Calcutta!

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tour of Art Deco Budapest (Part Two)

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Last week we detailed some of the structures that have made Budapest a surprise destination with lovers of Art Deco architecture and interiors. This week we continue to look at photographs of the understated but striking examples of the style in and around the city, as documented and compiled by photographer Zoltán Bolla. Budapest is more famous for its examples of Art Nouveau style, which is more ornate and relies on warmer curved lines. Art Deco is less associated with Eastern And Central Europe, but is instead the reigning style of the 1900s in many countries of the 'West' including the US, where its influences were so varied as to include motifs from Native American decoration (I point this out, because though it's rare, you can find such motifs in Budapest as well). But still, Art Deco, though over-shadowed by Art Nouveau, has a place in Hungary, which also had an early 1900s design scene that took inspiration from the clean lines and angularity of the Bauhaus and Cubist movements.

Enjoy these wonderful examples of Art Deco in Budapest. For the complete collection have a look at Zoltán Bolla's two-volume book, which can be found at the link at the bottom of the page.

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All photographs are used by permission of Zoltán Bolla, whose two volume A magyar art deco építészet, or Hungarian Art Deco Architecture, is available at the link.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

A Tour of Art Deco Budapest (Part 1)

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Art Deco was one of the first architectural styles to really go global. From LA to Paris, its use of geometric patterns, colorful facades, and modern-feeling forms influenced not just building, but graphic arts and industrial design. Emerging around World War I, it became the go-to style for architects who wanted to give attention-grabbing, elegant, and modern designs to their structures. It was very much the style of the machine age, and relied on angular geometry more than curved, humanistic forms for its inspiration. Though the style was originated in France, for the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, held in Paris in 1925, the iconic Empire State Building in the USA might be the best-known example of the style.

As a forward-thinking, future-minded city, Budapest was of course not immune to the charms of all Art Deco had to offer. With the cubist movement popular among painters, and materials like stainless steel, chrome, mahogany, and glass more readily and inexpensively available, local architects and designers fell under the sway of all Art Deco had to offer. The results are some of Budapest's most striking and distinctive architecture. While not as immediately stunning and overwhelming as other popular styles like Gothic and Baroque, or the Brutalism of the later Socialists, the Art Deco of Budapest takes a keen eye and appreciation for design to spot and enjoy.

Luckily, you needn't leave stumbling across Budapest's Art Deco gems to chance anymore, as a local Art Deco aficionado and photographer, Zoltán Bolla, has documented the prominent examples from around the city and collected them for a self walking tour, and two-volume book (link below). Over this week and next week, we will be showcasing the best examples from the Bolla's extensive portfolio. So sit back and enjoy the understated beauty of Art Deco Budapest (click on image to enlarge).

All photographs are used by permission of Zoltán Bolla, whose two volume A magyar art deco építészet, or Hungarian Art Deco Architecture, is available at the link.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

Michelin Honors Arrive In Budapest

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Just a few months ago – on this blog – we predicted another star, a Michelin star – would fall on Budapest. And so it happened, at the same time giving the city its first ever two Michelin star restaurant in Onyx. Moreover, the prediction that Stand 25 Bisztró would be honored also came to pass, though it received a Bib Gourmand rather than a star. All in all, it was a good haul for the city’s culinary scene.

For those who don’t know, the driving force behind both venues is the wunderkind chef Tamás Széll, who helped Onyx to procure its first star before leaving to open his own restaurant in Stand 25 Bisztró. Along the way he became the first Hungarian to win the Bocuse d’Or Europe, billed at the most prestigious cooking competition on the continent. The affable, charismatic Széll, only in his 30s, has become something of a local celebrity chef. It’s an interesting trajectory, as Széll could have had his choice of jobs or attracted investors for any number of haute cuisine restaurants here or abroad, but instead he chose to flawlessly recreate and update Hungarian classics in the unpretentious environs of a corner space in a central Budapest market hall. His instincts were of course spot on, and the restaurant is always busy, with their gulyás (gulash soup) becoming immediately legendary among gulyás fans.

 via the Stand 25 Bisztró Facebook page

via the Stand 25 Bisztró Facebook page

“We would like to present our gastronomy in a more informal, friendly, contemporary, but still very high-quality way, after the quite formal, elegant, Michelin-starred style of Onyx,” Széll told finedininglovers.com . “To me it was very important not to lose quality. To use the most excellent ingredients and the most modern Hungarian kitchen technology when we offer meals that feature the culture and history of Hungarian gastronomy. We innovated traditional Hungarian meals, we modernised and we are very proud of our Hungarian products and technologies.”

 via the Széll Tamás Facebook page

via the Széll Tamás Facebook page

If you are one who keeps track of such things, the other restaurants with stars are Costes, Costes Downtown, and Borkoynha. Bib Gourmands, which honor restaurants on the budget friendly spectrum, have also gone to Budapest's Fricska and Petrus. Olimpia earned an Assiette, an award that goes to restaurants with no fixed menu.

 via the Stand 25 Bisztró Facebook page

via the Stand 25 Bisztró Facebook page

If you look where the award count places Hungary among post Soviet Union countries, it puts the country firmly at the top of the list. Second place is the Czech Republic which has three starred restaurants. As a destination for sophisticated diners, the stars are only beginning to come out for Budapest and Hungary.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

How Budapest Became 'Spy City'

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If the recent release of Jennifer Lawrence starring Red Sparrow did anything for Budapest, it solidified the city as an all-purpose filming location for the spy-film genre. In watching the preview, posted below, you can see from just this short clip how extensively the city is utilized, from the opening shot from above Gellért Hill, then on to the New York Café, which we recently blogged about, in addition to finding a few of the more unique locations in a long and eerie underpass that runs under the Western Station train tracks, and the stained glass mosaic hall of Semmelweis University tower.  Most surprising, though not in Budapest proper, is the appearance of the Fabó Éva Swimming Pool in the industrial town of Dunaújváros. The film also includes obligatory shots of the Parliament and State Opera. If fact, 65 locations in Hungary can be seen in the film.

 via Wikipedia Commons/ Illustradjc

via Wikipedia Commons/ Illustradjc

According to Daily Variety: “The action in the novel on which Red Sparrow is based takes place principally in Helsinki and Moscow, but in the film Budapest replaces the Finnish city, as well as playing the Russian capital. Ready (a producer) recalls the visit he made with others from the production team. ‘We discovered a gold mine in terms of beautiful locations to set our main story around,’ he says.”

 Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow

Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow

But Red Sparrow wasn’t the first spy film to recognize the city as a wonderful setting for the genre. Not by a long shot. Way back when Robert Redford teamed up with Brad Pitt in 2001 for the hit Spy Game we got to see the possibilities of Budapest cast in this role. Later, in 2002, the ill-fated comedy I Spy saw the Chain Bridge hi-jinks of Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson. More recently have been installments in the Mission Impossible and Die Hard franchises, as well as the well-received adaptation of John Le’Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, not to mention the Melissa McCarthy comedy Spy. This spring will see the release of the comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, also filmed in Budapest. Local industry has also taken its cue: Budapest Noir, while more of a crime film, also makes use of the same mysterious atmosphere.

 Budapest Noir

Budapest Noir

The answer as to why it is so ideal for the genre lies in the diversity and authenticity of locations. Despite a lull in Cold War era spy material after 9/11, the genre of the ‘West’ vs. Russia is still very much alive. Because Budapest has had one foot in each world, it is a natural location when the modern needs to mix with Soviet nostalgia. Moreover, there is just a gritty noir feeling to the city that makes it so filmable. Finally, there have been hugely advantageous tax breaks installed for film-makers that continue to this day.

Only time will tell if Budapest will remain Spy Central. If not, it is still in demand as a location for horror, Sci-Fi, and basically any American film set in Europe. We’ll just wait and see what our sources say.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

The Unlikely Story of California's Favorite Hungarian Wine

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Question: What was the trendiest wine in America and elsewhere in the 1970s, and what could it possibly have to do with Hungary, whose wine industry was suffering from state consolidation and mass production during that era? The answer is a varietal most Hungarians are unfamiliar with, as unfamiliar as Americans are with its origins. But zinfandel, the grape associated with deep shag rugs, Charlie’s Angels, and a very young California wine industry, would not have taken root as the first real California trend-setting wine were it not for an adventurous, pioneering Hungarian named Agoston Haraszthy, who, among his many laurels, is said to be the first Hungarian to permanently settle in the then new USA, in the year 1840.

Many horticulture historians don’t just credit Hasaszthy with introducing the grape to California, they also credit him with revolutionizing the wine industry in California through his methods, many of which lay the cornerstone for modern American viticulture, so much so that he is known as “the Father of California Viticulture”.  Of course innovative minds also have their failures: he originally tried growing grapes in the cold Midwestern state of Wisconsin, one of the last places you would identify with wine or wine culture.

 via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

Having moved to California to get rich during the Gold Rush, he turned from mining to grape cultivation. Unsatisfied with the local variety of grapes, and thinking fondly of home, Haraszthy is said to have ordered kékfrankos (Blaufranhkisch) seedlings from Hungary, which were eventually bred into to the zinfandel grape. But the story of zinfandel’s introduction to America does not come without some controversy, however. It is speculated that Haraszthy had ordered a kekfrankos – but while being shipped, a seedling from Dalmatia from a wine called primitivo was mislabeled as kekfrankos, and what we know as zinfandel is indeed primitivo from Croatia. But never mind that, it can still be called Hungarian, as Dalmatia at that point was still part of the Austrian Hungarian empire.  

Another version of the story has a horticulturist called George Gibbs importing a grape called tribidrag, which would eventually become the zinfandel we know today. But even this alternate take on the wine’s history has a Hungarian twist: Gibb was said to have dubbed it 'zinfandel' as a play on the grape’s Hungarian name, tzinifándli (which, if we are being honest, only sounds vaguely Hungarian).

So, while Bull’s Blood, which was a novelty wine in the US under its Socialist state-controlled entity Hungarovin, and the ever growing cult of Tokaj dessert wine, are commonly identified as Hungarian, it may be that the most popular Hungarian imported grape in American is indeed zinfandel. Moreover, the grape is staging a comeback after being overtaken by chardonnay in the 80s, then pinot noir in the 90s and 00s as the California trendy grape.

No matter which story of zinfandel's arrival in America is true, it was certainly through Haraszthy’s viticulture methods that the grape rose to prominence. These days it is a long way from any Hungarian kékfranos in flavor, and is also a long way from the flacid 1970's zinfandel that was so popular, which is a good thing. Perhaps it is time to re-introduce the grape to Hungary and enjoy some 'tzinifandli,' and honor Haraszthy, international wine legend.

Zinfandel2.jpg

via Wikipedia Commons

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

Notes from the Underground: Cave Month in Budapest

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You wouldn't know it living elsewhere, but Hungary has a huge and growing underground culture. We're not talking about the 'noise' scene or craft beer, but the variety of caves and caverns around the country, several of which are in Budapest. As it's National Cave Month in the Hungary, we thought we'd offer a peek into some of the more striking Hungarian cave and cavern networks.

Hungary is known for many things, but caving has yet to become part of its national identity abroad. But this may change with the much covered (including on this blog) opening of the János Molnár underwater cave to divers. Hip international sites like Atlas Obscura made much, and rightfully so, of the gorgeous network, which is still being fully charted.

 photo by Janne Suhonen

photo by Janne Suhonen

 photo by Janne Suhonen

photo by Janne Suhonen

Then there is the Agytelek National Park network of caves and caverns in northern Hungary. You can actually enter the network on Hungarian territory and come out in Slovakia, though we don't recommend this as a safe or legal alternative to a bus. The entire network comprises over 250 caves and covers almost 200 square kilometers of ground. Some of the cave are thought to have healing properties, like the Peace Cave, which is said to relive the symptoms of asthma.

 Aggytelek National Park, via their Facebook page

Aggytelek National Park, via their Facebook page

 Aggytelek National Park, via their Facebook page

Aggytelek National Park, via their Facebook page

The Lake Cave in Talpoca is part thermal bath, part caving experience. With a three-kilometer meter long watery cave that runs straight under the town, it is also popular with health tourists who claim it cures respiratory issues.

 Tapolca

Tapolca

The Szemlőhegyi Caves, along with the Pál-Völgyi Caves, are some of the more popular caves in Budapest. Szemlőhegyi offers one of the more straightforward caving experiences in the country. Cold, dark and loaded with gypsum crystals, it's ideal for a morning or afternoon trip. You may even see a bat or two.

Hungary has only begun to open up the extensive cave networks across the country for tourism, but dedicating a month to these treasures will go a long way in bringing them much needed exposure. Throughout the month, the organizations that support individual cave will be hosting events like tours and concerts, so we suggest contacting them directly for programs.

 via the Pál-Völgyi Caves' Facebook page

via the Pál-Völgyi Caves' Facebook page

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

A Sip of Histroy at the 100-year-old Nyugat Bar

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 via New York Hotel

via New York Hotel

The cultural and night-life scene in Budapest, over the last 27 years since the demise of the Soviet Union, has been a fast changing place, and has seen the rise of cutting edge fine-dining, the rebirth of a world-class wine industry, and even the invention of a new class of pub, in our famous ‘ruin pubs’. But with all the change, many aspects remain the same, and there is even a growing fondness for the traditional, and love of nostalgia for earlier times. This is why it’s important to promote the shiny and new, but also celebrate the old. And in terms of local nightlife, it doesn’t get more more historical than the New York Hotel’s Nyugat Bar, which turned a young 100 years old last month.

While the New York Kávéház (the New York Coffee House), rightfully, some would say, gets all the attention, the bar in the same hotel is also worthy of attention as a filming location, or just as a spot to hide away from the bustle of central Budapest. Kept hidden up a few marble staircases and behind thick drapes, with its mahogany bar, low light, and cigar-room feel without the cigar smoke, and distinctly Central European vibe, one could imagine intrigue, espionage, or or any number of assignations occurring there away from the public eye.

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The name ‘Nyugat’, which means 'West' in English comes from the periodical by the same name that published the iconic group of Hungarian writers who gathered at the New York Coffee House to write, work, and carouse. The more familiar names will be Ferenc Molnár (who, once he emigrated to New York, with his fondness of hotels, made the Plaza Hotel his home), and later, Sándor Márai, who posthumously became an international best-seller. Though the Nyugat Bar closes at the reasonable hour of midnight these days, for the Nyugat-era writers, the New York Coffee House remained open all night.

 New York Coffee House, via New York Hotel

New York Coffee House, via New York Hotel

It would be hard to imagine a more atmospheric bar than the Nyugat, though through the years, it has seen closures, new owners, and renovations. But with 100 years, including two world wars behind it, the spot remains a little classy gem amidst the ruin pub chaos.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

Hungarian Film Genesis Finds Its Place At This Year's Berlinale

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Last year’s Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) brought wild success to the Golden Bear winner On Body and Soul, which now stands a chance to be Hungary’s second Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film in three years. This year Hungary has another strong showing with the home-grown film Genesis (Genezis), director Árpád Bogdán’s follow up to his acclaimed debut Happy New Life, which also got a nod at Berlinale, winning a Special Mention for the Manfred Salzgeber Award, and going on to have an active life on the festival circuit.

Funded by the Hungarian National Film Fund, Genesis tells the tale of “a young Roma boy, whose childhood reaches a sudden and drastic end when he loses his family in a tragic and brutal attack,” as the film’s press material tells it. It is a perennially relevant topic, recalling fellow Hungarian Bence Fliegauf’s Berlinale competition prizewinner Just the Wind, from 2012.

The theme is, as advance reviews indicate, capably handled by the Hungarian/Roma director Bogdán. Screen Daily, for instance, had this to say: “Though often favouring a hand-held camera, Genesis is nevertheless fastidiously assembled. As the titular allusion makes clear, what the film forgoes in subtlety it makes up for in biblical heft, benefiting from D.P. Tamás Dobos’ reverential invocations of fire, blood and water. As already noted, Gábor Császár’s soundscapes are often characters onto themselves.” Daily Variety returned a review that lavished praise on the Hungarian crew: “the film’s technical aspects benefit from Tamás Dobos’s elemental, widescreen lensing, composer Mihály Víg’s mournful score, and the masterful sound design by Gábor Császár.”

But Genesis wasn’t the only Hungarian film at the festival. There were also two honorary screenings of Eniko Enyedi’s 1989 film My Twentieth Century in the Berlinale Classics section.

Genesis had its premiere at the Panorama Special section of this year’s Berlinale festival, where it was well received. We wish it all the luck in continuing Hungary’s phenomenal recent triumphs. You can view the trailer for Genesis with English subtitles below:

 

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

 

 

 

Kossuth Square Captured by Drone!

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There’s a famous story from the filming of Eyes Wide Shut, about how director Stanley Kubrick had an assistant set up a ladder at one end of a New York street, climb to the top, take a photo from second story level, then climb down, move the ladder a bit, and repeat the process until the entire street had been shot in panorama format, all so he could determine if it was the right location for a long tracking shot. Perhaps these days, such a huge expenditure of labor would not be necessary, as now we have drone technology.

These photos, taken from a drone, were commissioned by the Hungarian National Assembly, a part of the national government, much of which is situated on Kossuth Square, right by the Danube River. Most structures on the formidable square get overlooked in favor of the grand, ornate, and enormous building of the Hungarian Parliament, which tends to hog all the camera attention. But this series of photographs challenges that, highlighting the less viewed but still very photogenic structures that line the square.

The purpose of the photos was to assess the condition of the buildings, as the square is a protected landmark, and it is important for the government to note if unauthorized changes have been made to the structures. But the photos also work surprisingly well as architectural photography, with their distinctly Hungarian design. Even the tarp-swaddled Museum of Ethnography (soon to be the site of the Ethnography Archive and Library), looks eerie and almost like something out of a film set. Enjoy this rare view of Kossuth Square, sans Parliament. (Click images to enlarge.)

Photo: Országgyűlés Hivatala

Photo: Országgyűlés Hivatala

Photo: Országgyűlés Hivatala

Photo: Országgyűlés Hivatala

Photo: Országgyűlés Hivatala

Photo: Országgyűlés Hivatala

Photo: Országgyűlés Hivatala

Article source: index.hu

All photos and photo rights belong to Országgyűlés Hivatala, The Hungarian National Assembly

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

Winter Wonderland Come Back! Budapest From The Air

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 via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

They say the worst of winter is over, that the longest days are behind us, but like the city -- winter in Hungary is tempestuous, and will be sure to have the last word on the duration and intensity of its stay. Still, there is a lot to savor from a Budapest winter. Good things tend to happen here in the most unlikely months. Take, for instance, the Academy Awards. As everybody knows by now, and as predicted on this blog, Enikő Enyedi’s On Body and Soul is a nominee and a prime contender for the Best Foreign Film statue. Beyond that, Budapest's ever-growing Titanic International Film Festival will be held at the gorgeous Urania Cinema. All sorts of non-film based events are also taking place around town, from the Mangalica Festival, which honors Hungary’s culinary wonder pig, to dance and micro-brew festivals. Budapest can be a lively, vibrant place in the winter. And when it snows, it turns startlingly beautiful. With that in mind, we are posting one of the better drone videos of Budapest in the winter. Shot last year by local media company Drone Media Studio, this one takes a long view of the city. Instead of focusing on standard locations like the State Opera and daringly flying around the Parliament, you can see what the entire city-scape looks like, shimmering with fresh white snow. Particularly dazzling are the ice floes on the semi-frozen Danube, and the shots of the Liberty Statue on Gellért Hill. It's only missing a Liszt soundtrack as accompaniment.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

Shot in Budapest: The Alienist

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 Alternative title: Budapest 2017

Alternative title: Budapest 2017

If you have been at all on social media or near a TV screen lately you couldn’t have missed all the promotion for the new TNT series based on Caleb Carr’s best-selling historical thriller The Alienist. Because it is a historical thriller, much is being made of the recreation of 19th century New York City, the setting against which the tale is told. But we are here to tell you that in reality, much of The Alienist was shot in Budapest. And not just on sound stages, where old world New York (including a portion of the Williamsburg Bridge) could be recreated by expert set builders, but actually on the streets of Budapest.

 via The Alienist's Twitter account

via The Alienist's Twitter account

Well, we are here to tell you it’s true. The story, which revolves around a New York crime reporter who teams up with a Central European-sounding psychologist (with the very Hungarian name of ‘László’) to track down a serial killer. Much of the expensive production (estimated at 5 million dollars per episode) was shot at Origo Studios in Rákospalota, while scenes featured prominently in the series' publicity were shot on locations in central Budapest, like Lónyay Street, which, as you can see from the photo, somehow manages to look at once very turn-of-the-century, Gilded Age Manhattan, while remaining identifiably Budapestian. W Magazine said that Budapest was the ‘best match’ for this era in New York. In the same article they detail Alienist star Dakota Fanning’s off-set adventures at the Sziget Festival, which is routinely names the best large music festival in Europe.

 via The Alienist's Twitter Account

via The Alienist's Twitter Account

We are wondering if Budapest has a mole planted at Daily Variety, who keeps promoting the city for its versatility and affordability (rightfully so, we should add): “The production in Budapest was enormous. It required great skill and effort from everyone involved,” they quoted one of the producers as saying. Moreover, the production “came in on budget, which was nothing short of a miracle.” Newsday attributed the “amazing sets” constructed at Origo Studios as a reason Budapest was able to stand in for New York, and in the same article, star Daniel Brühl  “wondered how they would create 1890 New York in Budapest, but there is so much grand architecture there that could re-create the era.”

The Alienist joined Red Sparrow, Robin Hood: Origins, horror flick The Terror, and the thriller Exchanged as one of the major productions filmed in Budapest in 2017. The Alienist is getting mostly positive reviews, but Budapest, as always, is coming away a star.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

 

Culinary Corner: Budapest Restaurant Wins Top International Honor

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No sooner do we predict another Michelin star for a Budapest restaurant, than the clouds open up and the culinary deities shine light on a local fine-dining favorite. The Pest-located restaurant Babel hasn’t won a star yet, but was given the high prestige honor of being named the Best International Restaurant of 2017 by Decanter Magazine.

 via Babel's Facebook page

via Babel's Facebook page

With print and on-line editions out of the UK, Decanter is one of the premier venues for writing on wine, and increasingly, international dining. The magazine doesn’t stray into Central/Eastern Europe much, and indeed the reviewer admitted that her expectations were low when visiting Budapest. But like so many others, she walked away with a memorable experience of both the city and its culinary offerings. Citing the locally sourced ingredients, a fresh take on design, the well chosen Hungarian wines, and a young, inspired chef from Transylvania, the reviewer gave Babel the honor, calling it the 'new Noma', referencing the world famous Copenhagen restaurant that brought inventive Danish cuisine to the attention of international food aficionados.

According to their website: “The back to the roots idea of Babel Budapest is inspired by Hungarian traditions and the amazing world of Transylvania. The menu of chef István Veres is based on childhood memories and Transylvanian roots, that the visionary young chef boosts with his unique creativity, introducing a distinguished and breathtaking gastronomy.” You see lots of earthy components like pine honey, pine dust, sheep’s cheese, beet-root and sunflowers seeds on the menu. “All dishes reflect a single memory,” says the chef. Heady talk indeed, but the honor backs it up. And if you have been to Transylvania, which has a simultaneous feeling of magic and authenticity to it, then you know what a hold the area can have over a person.

 via Babel's Facebook page

via Babel's Facebook page

 via Babel's Facebook page

via Babel's Facebook page

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Congratulations to Babel for providing more evidence that Budapest is a world-class city. The reviewer calls it ‘inexplicable’ that Babel has yet to earn a star. But perhaps when the Michelin stars shine over Budapest this year, Babel will get its due.

 via Babel's Facebook page

via Babel's Facebook page

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

A Hungarian in Hollywood: The Amazing Life of Pál Királyhegyi

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kiralyhegyicovers_70840.jpg

Every now and again we come across a person whose life was so extraordinary, at first glance it appears made up, or is perhaps the lives of two or three people conflated into one. Such is the case with Hungarian writer Pál Királyhegyi, or Paul King, as he was known in America. While Királyhegyi is not quite a household name  like Ferenc Molnár, or Zsa Zsa Gabor, he should be. In his long life, Királyhegyi experienced firsthand such historical events as the birth of the talking film in Hollywood, the 'Blitz' WWII aerial bombardment of England, the Holocaust, and Soviet Communist rule in Hungary.

But it all started in turn-of-the-century Budapest, where he was born to Jewish parents in 1900. At age 19 he left his home country, and after a short stint as a street performer in Italy, Királyhegyi stowed away in the hull of a cargo ship bound for the United States. Initially finding employment by turns as a journalist for Hungarian newspapers, and as a rather inept busboy, he worked his way west, eventually arriving in Hollywood around the time when ‘talkies’ were in their infancy. Hobnobbing with the likes of Charlie Chaplin (who hired Királyhegyi to work at his studio for a time) and fellow Hungarians directors Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) and Charles Vidor (A Farewell to Arms), he found fortune working at Paramount Studios (also founded by a Hungarian) as a scenario writer. It might have ended there, but for the fact that the writer in Királyhegyi was restless, and missed home.

 via cultura.hu

via cultura.hu

Returning to Hungary via London, he arrived in time “not to miss the Auschwitz Express”, as he put it. Királyhegyi was subjected to confinement in a number of the Third Reich’s worst concentration camps, surviving by his wits alone. After being liberated by his former adopted country men (the Americans) he made his way back to Budapest and tried to return to normal life of a journalist, only to be banished to a communal farm by the Communist authorities, who looked down on writers.

But by the time of his passing, Királyhegyi had returned to his place as a respected journalist and writer of plays in his beloved Budapest. You can take him as a kind of Hungarian Forrest Gump, except that he was much sharper of mind and quicker of wit. He had the kind of verve that demanded he send the following telegram to Stalin himself: “J.V STALIN, MOSCOW, KREMLIN. THE SYSTEM HAS NOT WORKED OUT STOP PLEASE STOP IT STOP KIRALYHEGYI STOP”

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Luckily, Királyhegyi’s memoir My First 200 Years was recently translated into English and is set to revive interest in this unique Hungarian, who had an impact on Hollywood, Hungary, and history. (For transparency sake, it is worth pointing out that the author of this post also had a hand in editing the translation of Királyhegyi’s My First 200 Years).

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

Predictions for 2018 (Hint: It Might be the Best Year Yet!)

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Budapest_New_Years_Eve_Fireworks-640x285.jpg

If you have taken to local Hungarian customs and eaten a bowl of lentils for the New Year, then you are in for a year of good fortune. If you haven’t, then we hope you are lucky enough to be living in Budapest, a place where good things are in store no matter what your New Year’s traditions are. Below are a few of the good things that we are predicting for Budapest and Hungary in 2018, which despite these dark, short days of winter, is looking very bright and sunny indeed.

Film production in Hungary will grow. As touted in several recent articles, the most prominent of which was in Daily Variety, Hungary is receiving its due as ‘Hollywood on the Danube’, with multiple big budget films shot here in 2017, including the blockbuster Blade Runner 2049. With no serious alteration to the film production tax incentives, and with state-of-the-art sound studios, Budapest will remain a low cost/ high quality destination for film-makers from Hollywood, India, and Asia.

More exciting film locations will be utilized. Budapest is more than just the Chain Bridge and the State Opera House. The city is loaded with unexploited locations, from the Kelenföld Power Station to the ‘Bálna’ or 'whale', on the Danube. And don’t even talk to us about the rest of Hungary, with Roman-era aqueducts, centuries old monasteries, and pristine prairies. Instead of a Spaghetti Western, might we see a Gulash Western?

 via Pintrest

via Pintrest

 via pintrest

via pintrest

Hungary will win another Oscar. With the short “Sing” and the juggernaut Son of Saul bringing home the coveted Academy Award in the past few years, you’d think Hungary would be passed over this year. But then About Body and Soul happened, which was Hungary’s nomination for Oscar consideration, ultimately making the shortlist for Best Foreign Language film. After multiple wins, including in Berlin, its momentum is undeniable, if not unstoppable.  

Budapest will become popular with high-end tourists. Budapest is currently undergoing growing pains as it attracts more and more low-end backpacker type tourists. Protests in what is now known as the ‘party district’ (formerly the Jewish District) are pressuring lawmakers to crack down on noise and excessive drunken behavior. Meanwhile, Budapest’s luxurious attractions are raising their standards to meet the expectations of more discerning clientele. Hotels like the Gresham Four Seasons and the Aria continue to win awards for Best Hotel from upscale publications like Conde Nast Traveler, and Budapest restaurants continue to win Michelin stars, drawing the attention of a better class of tourist.

 via Gresham Hotels

via Gresham Hotels

Speaking of Michelin stars, we predict another for Budapest. The only question is: who will get it? Candidates include restaurants Mák Bistro, Tigris, and Olimpia; or will it be a plucky country restaurant from the up-and-coming culinary destination of Tokaj? Our bet is on the very reasonably priced venue of Stand25 Bisztró. The owner/chef Tamás Széll was part of the team that brought a Michelin star to Budapest’s Onyx, and Stand25 Bisztró has the street food characteristics (they don’t shy away from classic Hungarian gulash, not to mention Stand25 is in a market hall) that is in vogue now with Michelin assessors.

 via Stand25 Bisztró's Facebook page

via Stand25 Bisztró's Facebook page

Only time will tell if we are right. No matter what happens, it is looking to be a lively and busy year in Budapest for film production and more. We hope yours is fantastic.

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.

 

 

 

 

The Many Loves of Tom Hanks in Budapest

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It seems like only yesterday that Tom Hanks was in Budapest filming Inferno, the follow-up to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. But it was in fact back in 2015 when he spent two months in Hungary. By all accounts he worked hard, and didn't indulge in the nightlife. But with time, we are better able to see just what the esteemed actor was up to when he, like so many others, let themselves go and gave in to their passions once infected by the spirit of the city.

 via Tom Hanks' on twitter

via Tom Hanks' on twitter

While the production of Inferno went off without a hitch, and the movie was released to good box office returns, the story did not end there for Mr. Hanks, who, it seems, left his heart in Budapest. If you followed the story on twitter or in other news accounts, then you know that Hanks fell in love with a relic of Socialist times in the form of a Polski Fiat 126p, or affectionately known in Hungarian as the “Kispolszki”, the "Little Pole", a tiny auto marketed to a Socialist Central/Eastern European population that needed a way to get around but didn’t have a lot of money.

 via Tom Hanks' twitter account

via Tom Hanks' twitter account

But it wasn’t just one Polski Hanks was seen woo-ing. He had designs on Polskis all around town, and wasn’t shy about documenting his conquests, as you can see from the photos, all widely shared on social media. Of course it came time to leave Budapest, and Hanks had to leave behind his beloved passion. The story should have ended there, in the form of just one more story of unrequited love. But the town that manufactured the Polski from 1973 to 2000 (Bielsko-Biala, which is indeed, in Poland) decided to send one of their best and most alluring to the New World, as a gift to Hanks. And so it happened that after a crowd-funding campaign, a brand new, Polksi (in white, of course) was manufactured, outfitted especially for Hanks, and shipped to California.

 via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

Hanks is reported to be especially gratified to be re-united with his love interest. And to think, the whole thing started here in Budapest. It wasn’t the first international love story to ignite against the cosmopolitan, old-world backdrop of our city, and we are sure it won’t be the last. In a place like this, anything is possible.

Have a look at the custom interiors of Hanks' Polksi here:

Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.