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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.

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

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genesis-arpad-bogdan-trailer-696x392.jpg

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”

kiralyhegyi3.jpg

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.

A Hungarian Church in New England (and Hungary)

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American congregations tend not to look abroad when seeking architects to design their churches. That was not the case, however, in 1909 in South Norwalk, Connecticut, when a congregation of Catholics made up of Hungarian immigrants turned to Hungary’s most prominent architect, Ödön Lechner, to envisage their future place of worship. So, if you have ever asked yourself the question “How did a church in Budapest’s Kőbánya neighborhood appear to be cloned and transplanted to a sleepy New England town?” we are here with the answer.

South Norwalk Saint Ladislaus Church

South Norwalk Saint Ladislaus Church

Known as a pioneer in the Hungarian Art Nouveau movement, Lechner has been nicknamed the ‘Hungarian Gaudi’ for his distinctive, visually striking style. Unlike Gaudi, however, he drew on Persian influences, innovated with iron, incorporated motifs of Hungarian folk-art in his buildings’ decoration, and worked with Zsolnay terra-cotta tiles to forward a national Hungarian style. You can find a famous example of his distinct style in the building for Budapest’s Museum of Applied Arts (pictured).

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

The South Norwalk church’s origins date back to 1899, when the local Hungarian community felt under-served in ministrations after a local Hungarian girl was hit and killed by a train. They subsequently sought to establish a church for ethnic Hungarians and Hungarian speakers. It was completed in 1912, with “Hungarian blood, toil, and dreams,” as the newspaper The Hour quoted a local Hungarian resident. The plans closely resemble the Kőbánya church, which was completed in 1897, as pointed out by on-line sources, most recently in an article in Hungary’s leading online news outlet, index.hu.

the Kőbánya version

the Kőbánya version

St. Ladislaus (the Latin name for László, a Hungarian king from 1077 to 1092, and to whom the church cornerstone is dedicated in Hungarian) church of South Norwalk, is of the Roman Catholic denomination, like so many thousands of churches across the United States. But the South Norwalk church distinguishes itself in being one of the few structures connected with Lechner, who primarily designed buildings for pre-Trianan Hungary (meaning you can find examples of his work in places like today's Serbia and Slovakia). While the stained-glass windows of the church were manufactured in Germany, they depict Hungarian motifs, like Szent István (St. Stephen) handing the Hungarian crown to both Mary and baby Jesus, and King László leading the charge in a crusade.

According to on-line sources, even though the congregation has opened up to non-Hungarians, and despite the fact that so many of those original immigrant families assimilated over proceeding generations, the church still has occasional services in Hungarian. If you don’t look too close, and you might just think you are in Kőbánya.

Sources: index.hu, The Hour, Wikipedia

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.

 

Location Spotter: City Park Ice Rink

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via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

With winter in its first seriously chilly phase in Hungary, the denizens of Budapest are making the best of it with Christmas markets, traditional mulled wine, and winter sports. Surprisingly popular with just about everybody is the ice rink in Városliget, or City Park. When the pond used for boating in the summer freezes over, it becomes one of the largest ice skating rinks in all of Europe, covering 3.5 acres. Last winter, the frozen rink played a prominent role as a location in National Geographic's series Mars, and is a perennially popular location for local productions when a romantic backdrop is needed.

Situated behind the Vajdahunyad Castle (where 2013’s series Dracula was partially shot), the rink was first conceived of in 1869, and opened to the public in 1870. Since then, it has been scene to many international skating events, including the 2012 European Speed Skating Championships, and the 2007 Women’s Bandy World Championships (bandy is a derivation of ice hockey, where sticks are used to push a ball, rather than a puck, towards the opposing team’s goal). In fact, Budapest's rink is the only ice surface in Hungary suitable for bandy, so if you are shooting the world’s first great bandy movie, this is just the spot.

Vajdahunyad Castle in the background via Wikipedia

Vajdahunyad Castle in the background via Wikipedia

Moreover, the main building that services the rink, erected in 1893 in Neo-baroque style, is a national landmark. Both that building and the rink have undergone recent renovations to accommodate more visitors. The City Park skating rink exudes ‘Old World’ atmosphere, with the surrounding structures all picturesque and photogenic.

The City Park rink has also found a surprising place with Budapest’s Jewish community. Once a year, on the first night of Hanukkah, it is rented out by factions of Budapest’s Lubavitches as a ‘coming out’ celebration, where Hanukkah songs are sung, and rabbis on skates light an enormous menorah. This is a new tradition for a community that no longer has to hide from institutional persecution Socialism offered.

The ice rink at the city park is versatile, picturesque, and functional, so like the city that hosts it. Below find a stylish amateur video that conveys the everyday romance the ice rink emanates.

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.

 

Bud-apest: The Enduring Cult of Bud Spencer in Hungary

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via enca.com

via enca.com

Budapest is slowly becoming a city of unlikely statues. While a long-proposed statue of Chuck Norris has yet to materialize, in recent years we saw the introduction of a statue of American TV star Peter Falk in his Columbo garb on Falk Miksa street, and more recently, on November 11th to be exact, in the rough-and tumble District Nine, a statue of Spaghetti Western and Jack-of-All-Trades Italian actor Bud Spencer was unveiled. While the late Spencer (born Carlo Pedersoli) was a pop culture fixture in English-speaking countries, he by no means held the stature of icons like Falk and Norris, so why is the first (and last?) full body sculpture of Spencer found in Hungary’s capital? Read on and that secret will be revealed.

It turns out that the roots of Spencer's popularity lie in the fact that his films were deemed harmless enough that the Socialist authorities allowed them to be routinely broadcast on Hungarian television in the 70s and 80s. The actor retained his popularity after the 1989 changeover, his roles resonating with Hungarians young and old. Szandra Tasnádi, the sculptress who fashioned and helped unveil the statue, claimed in an interview with Hungarian news-site 444 that Spencer’s everyman qualities, and ability to laugh in the face of oppressive criminality, appealed particularly to Hungarian audiences. Site welovebudapest.com puts it more expansively: “Bud Spencer (and Terence Hill) became some of the most popular stars of their era here, despite (or perhaps because of) their plebeian appeal; for the millions of Hungarians who were restricted from traveling internationally during that time, the exotic scenery of the movies’ worldwide settings provided a rare perspective of life in faraway places outside of communist-controlled society.”

Also important to Spencer’s popularity in Hungary was his love of the sports of swimming and water polo, both of which Hungarians have a history of supporting and excelling at. In fact, Spencer’s last game as a pro water polo player was against Hungary in 1967, ending in a tie. Moreover, the athlete and actor maintained a friendship with three-time Olympian water polo player György Kárpáti, and visited Hungary often.

To this day, Spencer’s films are still broadcast on Hungarian TV, though there was also a Spencer film festival held in Budapest. The soundtracks to his Spaghetti Westerns are so popular, they have been played to packed stadiums, and the actor’s popularity shows no signs of declining despite his death earlier this year at age 86.

Tasnádi’s sculpture features Spencer carrying a saddle and the quote “As Bud Spencer’s partner in crime, Terence Hill said at the funeral, he is sure that he will be welcomed by his friend with a saddle on his shoulders when he goes to heaven,” adorns the base. At the inauguration the actor’s daughter, who was in attendance, said, “The statue reflected the real personality of her father: a big man with a big heart.” The French inexplicably love Jerry Lewis, and David Hasselhoff is huge in Germany. The Hungarians have claimed Bud Spencer, and now a statue to prove it.

Bud Spencer and Terence Hill

Bud Spencer and Terence Hill

Below is a brief video of the event.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Crime Novel Budapest Noir Comes To The Screen

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budapest-noir.jpg

Way back in 2008, a short crime novel about a murder in Nazi-occupied Budapest was published in Hungary by an anonymous writer. Since then that novel, Budapest Noir, has gone on to be translated into multiple languages and published around the world, including in America by swanky publishing house Harper Collins.

The plot revolves around an investigator with a weakness for justice and beautiful women, the corpse of a young prostitute who died under mysterious circumstances, and a conspiracy that stretches from the thugs of the ghetto to the offices of the highest levels of government. It might be a long-lost Raymond Chandler novel, except the dead woman was Jewish, and the ghetto is in Interwar Budapest, where criminals lurk around the corners of shady Pest streets as well as in in the halls of Parliament. The plot of the highly entertaining novel unfolds both logically and surprisingly, which is what we expect of a 50’s style crime book. The author – Vilmos Kondor, a nom de plume – is clearly in love with American crime noir and pulp fiction. What the book may lack in literary prose, it makes up for with unique Hungarian twists: a pensioner who obsessively makes jam at home; shady dealings between the rising Nazi party and assimilated Budapest Jews; and the natural moodiness of the central 7th and 8th districts of Pest.

Of course this is ideal film material. Coupled with Budapest as a backdrop, and with the commercially savvy Hungarian Film Fund as backers, it was inevitable that Budapest Noir would be made. Indeed, it had its Hungarian debut earlier this month. Recently Hungarian/American director Eva Gardos (Gárdos Éva) told Daily Variety that she “wanted to make a film that allowed Budapest to become an integral character.” She noted that Budapest is often used a stand-in for other cities, but that in her new film “it’s a major element. We initially did some black and white tests, but I decided to shoot in color because I wanted to show off the vibrancy of the city.”

Gardos, whose life was the basis for the Scarlett Johansson starring film American Rhapsody, went on in Variety to tout the Hungarian crews and talent: “Making films in Hungary is very comparable to working in Hollywood. Hungarian technicians are well-versed in how to work on large productions, and they can easily bounce back and forth between local films and when Hollywood comes to town. There are some extremely exciting Hungarian filmmakers working right now, like László Nemes (Son of Saul) and Krisztina Goda (Home Guards).”

The Hungarian language Budapest Noir got its American debut at the Chicago Film Festival, and has also been screened at the Santa Monica Film Festival. Below you can find the trailer with English subtitles.

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.

On Body and Soul Continues Winning Over World

zita kisgergely

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Fresh from two recent exposés in Daily Variety, both of which tout Budapest as ‘Hollywood on the Danube’ for the amount of big budget film and TV series being shot here, Budapest couldn’t be more of a film hotbed. Or could it? Getting less press in Hollywood trades, but on the radar of Oscar voters, is a local film that is gaining more and more momentum with each passing month. We are talking about the lovely drama Testről és lélekről by Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi, or On Body and Soul, as it is known in English. The film is turning out to be an art-house sleeper hit, having won the Golden Bear in Berlin and more recently, the European Film Award for best film, as well as best actress (Alexandra Borbély), and best director and best screenplay (Enyedi). It’s been almost 20 years since Hungary got a nomination for that award (for István Szabó’s Sunshine) and represents Hungary’s first ever win.

We wrote about this On Body and Soul sometime in February of this year, but now that it is Hungary’s official entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscars, and that it is being enthusiastically embraced by international audiences (receiving a stellar 95 percent rating on the popular film site Rotten Tomatoes), it seems relevant to revisit.

On Body and Soul has received mostly positive reviews, with Time Out saying “It's a slow, quiet and beautifully composed story about human connection, or more specifically, the difficulty in finding it.” It marks a return to the spotlight for the director, who won the Cannes Camera d’Or prize for first feature way back in 1989 for her debut My Twentieth Century. Whether On Body and Soul can repeat Son of Saul’s success with the Oscars remains to be seen. We can only hope its quiet poetry and quirkiness will be appreciated by those who vote, and that Hungary will be heralded as not just the go-to spot for film and TV production in Europe, but also for its erudite and rich local film-making.

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photo of Ildikó Enyedi via Wikipedia

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.

Big News for Mr. Rubik's Magic Cube

zita kisgergely

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

 

Children and adults alive in the 80s remember the Rubik’s Cube as that multi-colored, frustrating puzzle that much of the world was obsessed with solving. Everyone across the globe seemed to have one. While it felt like a mere fad at the time, fascination with the ‘magic cube’ has endured, and is still enjoyed by generations of people who thrill to the challenge it poses. Indeed, read on to discover that there was big news in the world of competitive 'speedcubing' in the past few months.

Wouldn't you just know that that the famous mind-bending puzzle was invented by a Hungarian? His name was Ernő Rubik. It was one of those fairy-tale inventions: created in hours off from work as a university professor by a man with a passion for math, design, and games. The first Cube prototype was actually made of wood, with beveled corners, and the object was to match designs rather than colors. Initially called the ‘Magic Cube’ by the humble Rubik, the toy company that bought the rights re-named it Rubik’s Cube.

To call the Cube a phenomenon would be an understatement. More than 300,000,000 cubes have been sold since its introduction, and if laid next to each other, would form a line from the North to the South Pole. The toy company estimates that at the height of its success, one fifth of the world’s population had tried their hand at the Cube.

It also happened that last September, a new world record was set in solving the Cube at a speedcubing competition. The winner, Patrick Ponce, a teenager from the United Stated, was recorded as having completed to puzzle in an astonishing 4.69 seconds. This record as subsequently broken by Korean SeungBeom Cho who  with a 4.59 second finish. It has been a very exciting year for the Cube indeed. These aren’t just kids fiddling around in their basements. There is a worldwide culture of Cubing competitions, and the Guinness Book of World Records tracks and publishes the results. But traditional speedcubing isn’t the only way people compete with the Cube. There are also events for solving the puzzle with your feet, solving it underwater, blindfolded, or solving the cube in the fewest moves.

The puzzle, like a deck of cards or game of chess, seems to be built for the ages, as it shows no signs of fading in popularity. “I made something I found interesting and my idea was, ‘It’s good, and I wanted to share it with other people,’ ” said Rubik, now over 70, speaking at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. “I was not thinking about the size of the popularity and that kind of thing. It’s happened because of the cube, not because of me.”

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.

Daily Variety Tips Budapest as the Hottest City in Film Production

zita kisgergely

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

Budapest has been an up-and-comer as a film location for many years now.  This is true for obvious reasons, from the dynamic architecture to the availability of state-of-the-art sound stages as well as technically proficient local crews. Mix all that with a 25 percent tax rebate and a Hollywood tycoon producer in the role of Hungarian film commissioner, and it was only a matter of time before Budapest was recognized as the go-to place for cost-effective productions of all sizes from all over the world. Perhaps the deal was sealed with the release of Blade Runner II, which was shot in Budapest, soon followed by the Jennifer Lawrence staring Red Sparrow.

“This year feels like one of the busiest the ( Budapest production) community’s had since the tax rebate came into existence. The capacity of the town is at its maximum,” Adam Goodman, of Hungarian production company Mid Atlantic Films, told Daily Variety in an article dedicated to the ascendancy of Budapest’s film industry. In the article, Goodman goes on to explain that “daily unit costs can be more than 50% lower than those in the U.K. A grip, for example, will cost $130 a day in Hungary, compared with at least $300 in the U.K., while set construction is 35% cheaper.” This is due to cost-effective crews, locations, and the government-sponsored tax rebate enjoyed by international and Hungarian-language films, all of which make Budapest a very tempting place to shoot indeed.

Promoting Hungary as a location alongside championing the local Hungarian film industry is Andrew Vajna, the celebrated producer of such films as Rambo: First Blood, Jacob’s Ladder, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Total Recall. In his role as Hungarian Film Commissioner he supported for the Oscar-winning Hungarian film Son of Saul. As Vajna said in the same Variety article, “We are healthy, we are making movies, we have money, and we are out there. We are open for business.”

Budapest continues its roll with the recently completed spy comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, but more importantly, small and medium-size local and international productions including commercials and music videos that get less press are keeping local crews busy. It’s a city that accommodates all budgets, and its anointment by Variety as a ‘hot’ city for production is well deserved, but may be just the beginning.   

Source: Daily Variety

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.

Location Spotter: The Nest Artist's Club

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If you are walking up Budapest’s narrow Dob street, exiting the traditionally Jewish District, heading towards the grand Ring Road with its cheap bars and expensive hotels, you will pass a large building with an expansive entrance, and perhaps a young lady who is trying to tempt you into – of all things – a Cuban restaurant. You’d do well to submit to her recommendation, but, instead of making your way to the eatery, which only takes up a small portion of the building, take a tour through the Fészek Klub, or the ‘Nest’, one of Budapest’s most famous artists’ clubs.

Built in 1902, the club's mandate was to act as a place where the practitioners of painting, writing, sculpture, theater, and music could join to show work, perform, and of course eat, drink and cavort. The Nest houses multiple gallery spaces, a gorgeous courtyard, performance spaces, and a basement cabaret and bar. Among the internationally famous artists who frequented the Nest were Sándor Bródy, Ödön Lechner, Ferenc Molnár, and János Vaszary. The club’s golden age came early, before the building was damaged during World War II (subsequently repaired at the expense of its members), and then nationalized by the ruling Socialist government, thus losing its edge as an exclusive hideout for prominent artists. These days, it is privately held, and struggles to maintain its rooms as gallery and performance spaces, though according to its site, it still hosts over 1000 cultural events a year, drawing over 120,000 visitors. In their own words: “Fészek, aged more than 112 years, is still a host theatre for all the arts and a center for general education, unique in Hungary as well as in the world, keeping the cultural heritage alive and improving it further.”

The bright side to the club’s financial troubles is that so many of the old decorations have not been replaced, but instead have been preserved, turning the Nest Club into something of a time capsule. As you can see from the pictures below, the interiors invite visions of spy films and international Cold War thrillers. It’s one of Budapest’s unheralded gems, in terms of being an active cultural space and film location. And there are even a number of artists who still frequent the Nest Club, even though these days they may be dining on Cuban cuisine and Mojitos.

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 All photos via the Fészek Klub website.

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 Breezy Bikeride through Transylvania

zita kisgergely

via utazas.info

via utazas.info

This week we present a small gem of a film -- Transsylvania – a Cycle Me Home Story -- which while it has not been totally ignored, has perhaps not found the international audience it should. It’s a 2012 travel film with a fairly simple concept: a few friends bike across the Transylvanian countryside, cameras in hand and a drone above. Transylvania means ‘beyond the woods’ and that’s what we find here: notes to the country lives of the Hungarian populations who maintain their Hungarian identity and culture even though the area they reside in was annexed to Romania as part of the Treaty of Trianon.

But don’t mistake this short documentary for a political screed. What we get are beautiful shots of rolling hills and dense forests, and glimpses of folk dancing and shepherds. Transylvania is now regarded as one of the great (somewhat) undiscovered tourist destinations, and with its Hungarian Székely populations, Saxon villages, picturesque vistas, and traditional values and culture, it is no surprise why. Also, it is quite famous for its wild bears and wolves, which add to the mysterious, haunting feeling of that part of Europe.

Transsylvania – a Cycle Me Home Story, was made by bike enthusiast film-makers Máté Pálla and Levente Klára. The short has been screened at SHAFF, BFF NYC, Rueda, and LLAMFF, Montanha Pico and won the prize for the best road film at the 61st Independent Film Festival in Budapest. In their own words. “In the summer of 2014, a group of friends got on their bikes to ride around the beautiful hills of Transylvania - a magical land that once belonged to Hungary. Inspired by the legendary Sir David Attenborough, this movie tells the story of the cyclists and their experiences in the area in the style of wildlife documentaries.”

So if you want to get a window in on a unique Hungarian culture that has been preserved for generations, amidst beautiful and haunting scenery flying by, take the half hour and watch Transsylvania, delivered to you by bike (in Hungarian with English subtitles).

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 Enduring Legend of the Whiskey Robber

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There was a time when it looked like the Hungarian outlaw folk hero the Whiskey Robber was set to conquer the world. A highly regarded book, The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber, was published about him in English in America and Great Britain, and the film rights to that book were optioned by none other than Johnny Depp. The pic was developed to the point where a screenplay was completed. But sometime after that the project stalled, and the American Whiskey Robber film has yet to see light of day.

You Tube screenshot of A Viszkis

You Tube screenshot of A Viszkis

The world has always been fascinated by criminals with style, from Robin Hood to John Dillinger. But who is this swarthy outlaw, whose real name is Attila Ambrus, and how did he go from living on a one-street village in Transylvania to international notoriety, if not fame? Ambrus got his start being criminally bad as an ice hockey goaltender, then, in January 1993, when he needed money to bribe an official in order to emigrate to Hungary, he put on a wig, downed a shot of Johnnie Walker, and robbed a local bank. And then, like shots of whiskey, one bank followed another. This went on for years, and 10 banks in total, with the gentlemanly robber always enjoying a whiskey before his caper and behaving respectfully, even courtly towards the bank clerks, leaving behind bouquets of roses, while mocking the bumbling police who sought him by gifting them bottles of wine. He was a media sensation and became a symbol for the common man’s struggle against the accruement of pillaged wealth in the immediate years that followed the change from Socialism to capitalism in Hungary. As Magyar Hírlap – one of Hungary’s most prominent newspapers – put it, "He didn't rob banks. He merely performed a peculiar redistribution of the wealth that differed from the elites only in its method." According to the Whiskey Robber book, however, such funds were in fact redistributed to swanky casinos and high-end brothels.  

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His story might have died away once Ambrus was caught in 1999, except that he pulled off a daring escape from a Budapest jail with the classic ‘using bed-sheets as rope’ method, and evaded capture long enough to swing three more heists and trigger an international manhunt, the biggest in Eastern Europe at the time. After that, his reputation was sealed, even though he wouldn’t much enjoy it from the high-security prison cell that he called home after being re-apprehended.

Despite the Hollywood film version sitting on the sidelines, this month sees the release of a hometown take on Ambrus, A Viszkis, written and directed by Nimród Antal, known for his art-house classic Kontroll and big budget Hollywood films Predators and Vacancy. The highly anticipated film will be released in Hungarian in mid November.

As for Ambrus himself, he is now out of prison, middle-aged and flying straight, and apparently into crafting ceramics. The last remaining unsolved crime is why such a lively and inherently filmable story was shelved by Depp and the rest.

Below you can find the trailer for A Viszkis (in Hungarian)

Source: USA Today and Salon.com

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 Painted Walls of a Colorful City

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via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

There is no question that the varied architecture and city-scapes of Budapest can both inspire and oppress, with such a combination of new and old, and with so much deterioration, renovation, and construction. While some buildings look spruced up and pristine as colorful gingerbread houses, others have not been touched for decades, and indeed many buildings still bear the effects of wars past in the form of bullet pock-marks on their facades. For decades after communism, the only street art you saw was inept, ugly graffiti, some of which still remains. Into this mix, in an effort to both bring beautiful and engaging art to the inhabitants of the city, while at the same time making its streets more livable, comes the Színes Város (or, the Colorful City) organization, an NGO dedicated to livening up public spaces with enormous murals and other artwork.

In their own words: “The Colorful City is the first association, which colors public spaces. The civil based project has formed itself to be a movement from the very beginning, because coloring up public spaces in a legal way was unknown before 2008, the time we launched the initiative of Colorful City Project. The basic idea is built on Victor Vasarely's Colorful City concept, published in 1983, which bottom line is for art to set foot on the streets, public spaces and that people should not only meet with fine art pieces in galleries.”

If you walk around the city center, you can really see the positive effects the murals have on the scenery. Where there was once a gray, decaying wall, there is now an exciting, eye-catching painting, done by a prominent local or international artist. The murals have become so popular, walking tours have even been organized around them. Colorful City recognizes the importance of public art, works that needn’t be shown in galleries or museums to be appreciated and valued. In that sense, they have transformed the city into a gallery that every one of its inhabitants can patronize. You can call it street art, which it is, in its truest sense -- just don’t call it graffiti.  

Below find a few of the more prominent murals The Colorful City organization has delivered to Budapest over the past years. They represent just a portion of the 15,000 square feet of wall space that have been painted by Színes Város.

You can learn more about Színes Város, or the Colorful City at their website here.

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város Facebook page

via a Színes Város 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.

School Food: American Millenials React to Hungarian Cuisine

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Hortobágyi crepes, photo via Wikipedia

Hortobágyi crepes, photo via Wikipedia

Question: what would happen if you put a lot of traditional Hungarian dishes in front of a bunch of American college students? Below we have a video that attempts to answer that pressing question. While one might expect a good deal of resistance to foods such as rakott krumpli (layered potatoes, or potato casserole, depending on the translation) they were surprisingly open to the many Hungarian dishes placed before them. If you are new to Hungarian food, it can be typified by a few qualities, foremost the use of paprika (the cliché is true). But there is so much more to the cuisine, which has stayed surprisingly resilient to the influences of so many different ethnic foods that can now be found in Budapest. Heavy on braised meat stews, casseroles using seasonal vegetables, dry sausage and sour cream, and a lot of pork dishes (cattle are typically used for dairy, and whatever beef comes from them will be braised or put in soups). You will also see a few of oddball ingredients such as quark, poppy seed, and no shortage of liver. Dishes that may be considered exotic in the States can be commonly found in grocery stores here, like quail eggs, goose liver, and kefir. In the larger farmers’ market market halls, you can even find tastes leftover from food-scarce war-time Hungary, like horse sausage and offal, though these by no means define Hungarian food.  

Well, the students were very sporting, perhaps because they got off easy (no horse sausage or pork lung). It makes for a nice meeting of cultures, and perhaps the legion of foreign Hungarian food fans (not to mention the Hungarians themselves), have gained some new recruits.

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.