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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.

Filmed in Budapest: Colette

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Summer puts us in a literary mood. There is nothing like lingering along the banks of the Danube, taking an ice-coffee in one of Budapest’s grand cafes, or sitting in the City Park, all with a favorite companion: a book. Continuing on with last week’s literary theme, we have a look at the pioneering female writer, Colette, who was the subject of the biopic that bears her name — shot mostly in Budapest, naturally.

Filmed in 2017 in Budapest and England, and released in 2018, the film examines the life of writer and performer, and 1948 Nobel Prize nominee, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. Despite being the first woman to be considered for the prize, her literary career began with a less lofty body of work. Indeed, she was the author of numerous autobiographical erotic works, deemed to be pornographic at the time. Later she worked as a journalist, which was also rare for a woman at the time, as was her later life choice of same-sex partners.

The film brought Keira Knightly to Budapest for a spell. As Capital Reviewer reports: “Mostly, the film is shot in rural Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire and Budapest. The later goes some way in justifying the claim that Budapest is the “Paris of the East” (as it is the “Brussels of the East” in ITV’s Vanity Fair). In fact, Budapest’s Champs Elysées is known as Andrassy and it has its own Moulin Rouge. The roll of Magyar names in the credits shows the considerable contribution by a Hungarian crew.” The actress herself was spotted multiple times taking in the city on her days off, indulging fans with selfies.

In an extensive interview with Yahoo News, Colette the Production Designer touts the spectacular locations to be found in Budapest. His favorite location turned out to be the The Express building, in the 5th District. “The extraordinary, crumbling old Navy headquarters on Zoltan Utca—yes, Hungary once had a navy and a sea coast!—provided us with a café, a Strasbourg hotel, some fantastic staircases, a theater entrance, a bit of a street, and an apartment. And we hardly scratched the surface. Across the street is the old stock exchange that is heavily featured in the film Blade Runner.” He goes on to praise locations on Andrássy Avenue, and the sound stages at Origo Studios.

Colette was highly praised, popular with audiences, and nominated for multiple British Independent Film Awards. Moreover, it once again proved Budapest to be the most versatile city around for dynamic locations, no matter what era, or location is called for. You can see how skillfully this was accomplished in the Colette trailer below, which features multiple locations around the city. Or, if you are in Budapest, just pick up a copy of Colette’s work at Budapest’s famous bookstore, Írók Boltja (The Writers’ Store) and experience Budapest with this pioneering, original writer as your constant companion.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

Make this Film Now! (or Soon!): Julie Orringer's The Invisible Bridge

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Most of the literature that is based in Budapest and Hungary is, naturally, written by Hungarians. We even see some of these books in English translation. Classic books like Paul Street Boys, Anna Edes, and Celestial Harmonies. But occasionally a curious foreigner comes along and discovers the highly literary atmosphere of Budapest, and gets inspired to write about it. We are thinking of books like Budapest, by Chico Buarque, the ironically named coming-of-age comedy Prague, by Arthur Philips, and more recently, The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer.

The later turned out to be a huge international best-seller, and is currently under development for a film version. But until that happens, we only have the novel to look to. The narrative of The Invisible Bridge concerns a Hungarian Jewish family and an epic romance during the lead-up to World War II and Hungary under the German occupation. Following Andras Lévi, a poor Hungarian who goes to Paris to study architecture, and the beautiful ballet teacher he meets there, named Klara, the story is ambitious in relating love in the most tumultuous of eras. Praised for its ‘brilliant storytelling’ by the Guardian, the book was a critics’ darling. Indeed, the New York Times gave it high praise as well, saying, “The strength of The Invisible Bridge lies in Orringer’s ability to make us care so deeply about the people of her all-too-real fictional world. For the time it takes to read this fine novel, and for a long time afterward, it becomes our world too.”

In describing the historical and personal inspiration for her novel, Orringer told Moment Magazine: ”What drew me to the story was hearing about my grandfather’s experiences when he was younger.  Despite the fact that I grew up in a Hungarian family, I just didn’t know much about what had happened to Hungarian Jews during the war. Like a lot of families with Holocaust survivors, those years just weren’t discussed in my family.  My grandparents certainly alluded to them and I heard bits and pieces about their survival, but I didn’t really have a sense of the whole picture because my grandparents didn’t talk about it. Once I started asking them questions about what had happened, they really wanted to tell their story.  They wanted the novel to be written.”

Written in her thirties, Orringer, despite her name, is of Hungarian origins. The story in The Invisible Bridge is largely based on her relatives, who came from the town of Konyár near Lake Balaton. Her uncle is the highly regarded sculptor Alfred Tibor, also a Holocaust survivor. Orringer’s literary pedigree includes many of the most prestigious schools in the United States, including Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

We can only hope there is progress in the film’s development, as Budapest will be a necessary part of the setting, and Orringer can bring her family’s story home once again.

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Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.






Location Spotter: Keleti Pályaudvar, Budapest's Eastern Station

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Denizens of travelers are rejoicing in Budapest, as Keleti Pályaudvar, or Budapest’s Eastern Train Station, is re-opening after a brief closure for renovation. This gave us some time to ‘train’ our thoughts on this often overlooked structure, which is so prominent in the landscape of the city and such an ideal location for filming scenes from all eras in time.

Keleti Station is visible from downtown when looking down the main artery of Rakoczi Avenue. Its facade is at once utilitarian and grand, a symbol for Budapest itself for travelers coming and going from the city. With a relatively new subway line running through the renovated underpass, and a new open air plaza, the station also expresses a spreading gentrification of the formally rough and tumble area where it resides.

Keleti’s construction was completed in 1891, done in an eclectic style. According to We Love Budapest, “Chief Engineer Gyula Rochlitz was the designer, while the steel structure of the station was developed based on the ideas of bridge-building engineer János Feketeházy. According to the study plans, the trains would have arrived at the reception hall on the top floor, while the luggage traffic was planned to be implemented downstairs, where they also planned to locate a post office and coffeehouses.”

By Németh Tibor - Own work, Wikipedia Commons

By Németh Tibor - Own work, Wikipedia Commons

While no coffee houses remain, unlike at most stations in Budapest there is a proper sit-down restaurant in Keleti, serving authentic Hungarian cuisine. Inside the ticket hall, if you are not in too much of a rush, you can enjoy frescos by one of Hungary’s most famous classic artists, Károly Lotz. The name ‘Eastern’ refers to the station being the terminal station for lines that run to the east, servicing destinations like Transylvania and the Balkans (though it now also services lines that run to Vienna, Prague, and Munich, which are decidedly West.)

By Ur-Engur, Own work, wikipedia Commons

By Ur-Engur, Own work, wikipedia Commons

Even though the station was damaged in each world war, it always was rebuilt to its former grandeur. In 1988 it was listed as protected heritage building. Its glass roof and huge concourse make for quite an atmospheric, ageless location. While airy, elegant Nyugati Pályaudvar, the Western Train station, seems to take a lot of attention away from Keleti, the later is the busiest station, with over 400 trains arriving and departing daily. One more amazing location for film production in Budapest to discover.

via Mark Benecke, Wikipedia Commons

via Mark Benecke, Wikipedia Commons

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

Black Widow to Weave Web in Budapest

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Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

There have been strong and reliable rumours floating around town as of late that a portion of Marvel’s big budget action film Black Widow will be filmed in Budapest. It was only a matter of time before Marvel’s ever expanding Captain America universe should extend to Budapest, whose film production industry is similarly ever expanding. This means Scarlett Johansson will be spending time in the city, as she will of course be playing the role she originated.

Apparently in The Avengers, Johansson’s Russian-born Black Widow character, Natasha Romanoff -- aka Black Widow -- makes reference to an incident that occurred in Budapest, which Jeremy Renner’s character Hawkeye cannot recall. It is speculated that this sequence - at a minimum - will tell that story, in Budapest, naturally. This may also mean that Budapest will once again sit in for a Russian city, as it did to such perfection in the Moscow-set spy film Red Sparrow.

Less known is that this will actually mark the actor’s return to Budapest. It was 18 years ago that the film American Rhapsody came out, starring a very young Johansson as a troubled American teen who spends a summer in Budapest to connect with her Hungarian roots. Written and directed by American/Hungarian film-maker Éva Gárdos, the film is very much based on her life experience.  Gárdos was left behind in Hungary when her parents escaped over the heavily armed Austrian/ Hungarian border. Eventually reunited with her parents in Canada, she returned to Budapest as a teenager to experience the country under Communist rule. Though the film has the character splitting her identities between California and Hungary, it is still very much the director’s own tale.  “California is so different from Europe. Visually, I wanted these people to feel like they were on such a different planet,” Gárdos told the LA Times back in 2001, upon the film’s release.

Johansson in Budapest in American Rhapsody

Johansson in Budapest in American Rhapsody

While American Rhapsody got middling reviews, it was very well received by the late Roger Ebert, at the time America’s most influential film critic, praising the budding starlet and writing that “The American children of immigrants from anywhere will probably find moments they recognize in this movie.”

So in Johansson’s return, we can see just how far she has come as an actress, and just how far Budapest has come as a location. A reunion of old friends who are both at the height of their powers, it will be an ‘incident’ worth remembering.

If you are having trouble following the progression of Johansson’s Black Widow character, who ranges across films, Evolution TV has put together a helpful video, which you can see below.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.


Budapest Tapped: The Local Craft Brew Takeover

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via the Mad Scientist Facebook page

via the Mad Scientist Facebook page

We like to think we have pretty sophisticated tastes on this blog. If we are going to write about the culinary scene, it’s going to be about the chic wines from Tokaj or Michelin Star restaurants. It’s fair to say that beer is a bit beneath our radar. That said, things have changed dramatically in Budapest on the beer scene, enough to worth making note of.

While ‘revolution’ is a strong word, and should probably be saved for real revolutions, the rise of craft beers has changed the face of bar culture in downtown Budapest. As of just five years ago, there were only a handful of craft breweries, all competing for space at the few pubs and restaurants that dared offer something customers weren’t accustomed to in a beer choice. This typically meant the odd locally brewed IPA or stout. But now, everything has changed. The more popular craft breweries are not relying just on others to sell their product, but are opening taprooms of their own, and doing so in prime downtown Budapest real estate. There is clearly money and enthusiasm behind what was once a hobby industry.

via the Mad Scientist Facebook page

via the Mad Scientist Facebook page

Who are the players here? Foremost we can look to Mad Scientist, Budapest’s whimsical brewery that has a permanent stand at the fabled ruin pub Szimpla Kért. With a flair for the imaginative, Mad Scientist strikes gold with their fruity mango flavored beer, a cucumber wheat beer, barley wine, and even a gluten-free beer, as well a the controversially named Liquid Cocaine, which is as hoppy as they come.  Pushing the envelope, they have experimented with a chardonnay/beer hybrid, teaming with Hungarian winery Vylyan.

Elsewhere, Monyo Brewery just opened up Grand, a dedicated taproom on the main Ring Road, interrupting the influx of cheap party places. According to their website, “MONYO is one of the fastest-growing breweries in Hungary, in 2015 we won the title 'Brewery of the year', and other foreign awards. MONYO Co. has both traditional and new wave beers. Our flagship product is Flying Rabbit IPA, in which the Citra hop guarantees a tropical flavour -orgy.” Not to be outdone by Mad Scientist, they offer a beer called Anubis that is inspired by an ancient Egyptian recipe, using ingredients such as silkweed-honey, saffron, golden raisin and grape juice. Their aforementioned Flying Rabbit has been a staple of craft brew drinkers for years.

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Other breweries to open taproom include the lauded Horizont Brewery, and the larger less experimental but dependable Legenda Brewery. International craft breweries have also taken notice of Budapest. Trend-setting, and highly fetishized brew-masters Brew Dog from Scotland opened a dedicated taproom right off Budapest’s central Deák Ferenc Square. The huge space and steep - by local standards - prices evince a local optimism about beer as a higher-end beverage. Beer in Budapest is no longer brewed and sold with just mass consumption in mind.

There are certainly a few more breweries with taprooms out there we have yet to discover, and we look forward to doing that research. Like most things that marry technical know-how and imagination (such as film production, for instance) Hungarians do craft beer exceedingly well. For now, enjoy this small taste of the Budapest craft brew ‘revolution’.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

The End of History: Goodbye to Hungarian Writer John Lukacs

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The film The Darkest Hour made quite a splash when it came out, depicting Winston Churchill’s early days as Prime Minister of England, facing World War II and the 1940 War Cabinet Crisis. Grossing over a hundred million dollars and earning Gary Oldman an Academy Award nomination for his depiction of Churchill, it was one of the most lauded films of 2017. Less known is that it was based on the book Five Days in London, May 1940, by Hungarian born scholar, writer, and iconoclast John Lukacs.

John Lukacs (born Lukács János Albert) passed away a few weeks ago, but left a long list of books behind, importantly Budapest, 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture . Perhaps it wasn’t his seminal work, or best known, but around this town it is indispensable if you want to read about turn-of-the-century Budapest, including so much information about cafe society and the Golden Age of Hungarian literature. Foremost focusing on writers, Lukacs introduced Gyula Krúdy, Frigyes Karinthy, and Antal Szerb to readers of English before their works in translation made them fashionable. Moreover, he brought to life a cafe society that rivaled both Vienna and Paris for its fecund intellectual life and social intrigue.

Lukacs himself was born in Budapest in 1924 to Jewish parents who had converted to Roman Catholicism. Despite having spent years abroad, he remained in Hungary at the commencement of World War II and was subsequently made to work in a forced labor battalion. Escaping certain death, Lukacs fled and hid in a cellar until the end of the war, which took the lives of both his parents.

Finding nothing to love in the newly established Communist government in Hungary, Lukacs took a post in New York City at Columbia University, later moving to Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania, where he would teach for most of his career. Though Lukacs was a conservative, he was also one of the right’s staunchest critics, rebutting all forms of WWII revisionism or Third Reich aggrandizement. His book The History of Hitler is considered the defining interpretive biography of Adolf Hitler. Lukacs’s views on populism were also dim, and he considered it the source of both Communism and Fascism.

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Lukacs took on a great many subjects in his writing, but was in Winston Churchill that he found his true inspiration. Churchill was a strong leader with a moral backbone and willingness to stand against his own party, and Lukacs gives much credit for turning the tides in WWII in his books Five Days in London and 2008's Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat. Both titles were huge hits among academics and the general public alike.

So, we while we say goodbye to one of the sharpest critical Hungarian minds to make a name abroad in recent years, we welcome the chance to revisit his work, even if it is just sitting down and watching The Darkest Hour or flipping through Budapest, 1900, comforted by the thought that Lukacs has joined the great names from history he wrote so incisively about.

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Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

Filmed in Budapest: Lords of Chaos

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It’s not often we have the occasion to write about Norwegian Black Metal in these pages, or even black metal, or any metal at all for that matter. Nor do we feel the need to chronicle every film shot in Budapest (this would no longer be possible, with so much film production going on here) but the Hungarian connection to Lords of Chaos, which is quickly becoming a hit cult film, are worth noting.

Based on the true story of the birth of the music genre Norwegian black — or death — metal, now known to be the darkest, most nihilistic brand of heavy metal, Lords of Chaos was released earlier this year to very strong reviews. While the location of the story, Norway, is intrinsic to the topic, the producers couldn’t help but take advantage of all that film production in Hungary has to offer, and found most locations for their film in Budapest. Moreover, some interiors that appear to be Oslo were re-created in Hungarian sound stages, leaving a precious little of the film to be shot in Norway.

While Lords of Chaos has some big names around it, like Vice Media, and Ridley Scott, whose company Scott Free had a hand in production, it has the feel of an art-house film, and indeed was shot in only 18 days in and around Budapest and Oslo. That it is Budapest in many crucial shots will me more apparent to some than others, with a scene that is easily recognizable as Nyugati, the Western Train Station. Even the churches that were burned down in the story were constructed in Budapest, though, and here’s a fun bit of trivia, some were actually repurposed from the Blade Runner II set (also shot in Budapest, as we know).

But what is the other Hungarian connection, you may ask? We are here to tell you. Much of the film revolves around the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem and their rise to prominence in the metal scene. When the lead singer commits suicide, instead of disbanding, Mayhem found a new lead singer in Hungarian musician Attila Chihar.  An electrical engineer by trade, Chihar was invited to join the now world famous band on the strength of of his vocals with local metal band Tormentor. Chihar came in handy as a local connection in the film shoot, and spent time on the set of Lords of Chaos advising lead actor Rory Culkin in his role as Mayhem founder and guitarist Eponymous.

So while Norwegian death metal may not be our thing, we are willing to give it some attention if it involves great shots of Budapest, standing in for Oslo, and to support a Hungarian musician who is crushing it on an international level. Let’s call it the brighter side of black metal.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.







A Monopoly on Budapest Board Game Fun

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You know your post-Socialist city has shed its past (well, mostly) when the ultimate capitalist game - Monopoly - comes out with its dedicated version. That’s what happened last month, when Monopoly Budapest was released for sale. The American board game has been famous at home for over a century, but is currently seeking global expansion, with versions of select cities around the world.

If you are not familiar with the game, you play by moving your piece around a square board and buying up property. Once you own a block of similar properties, you can begin building houses and hotels on them, and charging rent to anybody who happens to land there. Originally featuring streets from around Atlantic City on the eastern coast of the USA, we can imagine the properties in the Budapest version will be named after our more prominent landmarks and boulevards. Certainly you will be able to purchase the Chain Bridge, Andrássy Avenue, and Hero’s Square.

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Just like Budapest, Monopoly has an interesting history. The original game was in, 1903, invented by a woman, Elizabeth Magie. Her storied life includes being a rare -- for the time -- female newspaper reporter and publisher, and an outspoken abolitionist. Her version of the game, which she called The Landlord’s Game,  was intended not to promote capitalism, but rather to demonstrate the dangers of capitalist excess (indeed, as with most games, there can be only one winner). While it went through several permutations, as well as copyright battles, Monopoly eventually became popular enough in its current form to inspire national and international tournaments.

So, don’t be surprised if you see Monopoly Budapest clubs springing up. With a real estate boom, and prices rising across the city for rent, we are undergoing something of a real-life Monopoly competition. But that doesn’t detract from the charm of the game. I, for one, have always wanted to own a bit Parliament. And now I have my chance.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.










Danny DeVito’s Budapest Bucket List

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by Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia Commons

by Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia Commons

Word on the street -- and in the news -- is that TV and film star Danny DeVito is arriving for a stay in Budapest to film the WWII boxing biopic of Harry Haft (another major production that is, not surprisingly, taking advantage of everything film production in Hungary has to offer). As there are no known reports of Mr. DeVito having visited our city before, we thought we would put together a short bucket list of things to do, based on his previous films.

For instance, one of Danny DeVito’s first cinematic hits was the dark comedy Throw Mama From the Train. Without throwing Mama anywhere, we suggest a ride on Budapest’s luxurious and historical Nostalgia train, which departs from Nyugati pályaudvar, the Western train station. The route of this antique-fitted train ride varies, but is always picturesque, running to Lake Balaton or north the the Danube Bend. Moreover, the train engines runs on steam, much like DeVito’s character Owen in the film.

The latest version of the classic Dumbo features a flying elephant, as everybody knows. While there are few elephants in Hungary, we do have a wonder animal of our own in the form of a rasta-haired dog. The Puli is rapidly becoming an internationally famous breed due to its curly, floppy hair and jumping ability. Noted Puli owners include Mark Zuckerberg, who flew to Budapest to purchase a few of his own. Will there one day be a film about a flying Puli? Only time will tell.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

In the kids’ classic Big Fish, DeVito plays a werewolf. If DeVito feels the need to stay up late and get naked - as he did in Big Fish - instead of hunting prey, we recommend attending a rave in one of the thermal baths, events where you can both undress and go wild late into the night. Rudas Bath-house in particular is known for its trippy and wet bath-house raves.

via the Cinetrip FB page

via the Cinetrip FB page

Of course the actor/director is inventive enough to come up with his own plans. Not to mention, he will be kept busy with filming Harry Haft, and teaching a master class at the Urania Cinema. For our part, we hope he enjoys his time spent in Budapest, and comes back soon.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

Complex Realities in Easy Lessons: Hungarian Documentary Awarded in Zagrab

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That immigration is one of the biggest and most divisive issues facing the European Union is without question. With this in mind, various local film-makers have offered responses, and even asked more questions in recent projects. Foremost we are thinking of the very lauded feature film The Citizen, released recently in Hungary and around Europe. Less noted but equally probing is the documentary Easy Lessons, which was released last year, but is still making waves on the festival circuit, most recently winning an award at the ZagrebDox documentary film festival in Croatia.

The film, the first full length documentary by Hungarian film-maker Dorottya Zurbó, follows the days of teen-age Somalian immigrant/refugee Kafia Mahdi as she attends a Hungarian school and tries to learn the Hungarian language and study for her final exams. Funded with assistance from the Hungarian Film Fund’s Incubator Program, the documentary has received good review attention in recent months. Moreover the UNHCH, the United Nations agency for refugees, wrote up the film, interviewing its subject, who it now is now getting work as a fashion model, having been given so much exposure from the film.

As a refugee, Mahdi crossed the Balkans to arrive at the Serbian/Hungarian border, and was eventually taken into care in a center for children in the Hungarian town of Fot. Of the film, Mahdi said, “Working on the film was challenging. I had to share my full story, my feelings and my deepest thoughts, which I always find hard to express. But after a while, I got to know the crew and that made me comfortable to open up about a lot of things.” Quick to learn Hungarian, she describes Hungarians as “straightforward and nice.” Having fled the prospect of a forced marriage, the model now continues to study Hungarian and other languages, and hopes to get citizenship soon.

In awarding the film, the ZagrebDox jury said this: “Easy Lessons is a strong personal story of a young Somali refugee finding herself in Hungary. Excellent dramaturgy and editing underscore the significance of Kafia’s lonely journey. Through nuancedly layered personal story (sic.) about identity, acceptance and finding a new home, we glimpse universal questions and lessons about finding your place in the world, when you cannot return to the place you call home.”

It is of course not the film’s job to offer answers to the complex problems facing modern Europe, but rather to shed light on human experience, which it does capably. Easy Lessons can be seen in Budapest, at the Magyar Film Hét (Hungarian Film Week) festival, which runs April 22 - 27th of this month. Below find the trailer, which is in Hungarian with English subtitles.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.






Two Times Lucky? Presenting Joci Pápai, Hungary's 2019 Eurovision Entry

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There are so many things to look forward to in spring: budding tulips, warm weather, Easter, and of course, Eurovision. The pan-European (and beyond) song contest has become an international phenomenon, with a taste for kitsch and quirk, appealing to audiences all over the world.

Hungary has not traditionally fared very well in Eurovision. By and large, the choices of entrants have been played fairly safe, representing Hungarian folk or pop without being controversial. Then again it’s hard to compete with spectacles  like Lordi and Conchita Wurst. But this year, perhaps two times is a charm, as Hungarian pop singer and rapper Joci Pápai will return to the Eurovision stage at his second attempt to bring home the prize for Hungary. The first time around, in 2017, he placed a very respectable 8th.

Joci Pápai (Joci Pápai in Hungarian) is of Roma descent and found local fame by faring well in the song talent show Megasztár, making it to the final rounds. This brought him to the attention of local rappers and star-makers in Hungary. Like in most countries, the Eurovision selection is chosen by the television audience of a local talent review, in Hungary’s case A Dal (The Song). This is Joci Pápai’s second win on the show, this time with a heartfelt ballad called “Az Én Apám”, or, “That’s My Father”.

Though much of the Eurovision audience won’t comprehend the Hungarian lyrics, the music of “Az Én Apám” should strike a powerful chord with voters who are perhaps looking for something less novel, more authentic and straightforward than winners in previous years. Still, with the allowable entrants to Eurovison reaching 50 countries (most recently Australia was allowed to compete) the competition is steep. While winning usually yields short-term rewards, in a few cases winning the show can set the stage for long-lasting international stardom, as happened in the case of Abba, Bucks Fizz, and of course Celine Dion.

In the Hungarian entrant’s favor, perhaps the controversial choice of location, Tel Aviv, will leave audiences amenable to voting for a more straightforward act. Moreover, voters will be used to the singer, and have already proved they possess an appreciation for him. As Hungary has neither won nor had a runner up in Eurovision, which has been airing annually since 1956, perhaps it is time for our entry to make some waves.

The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will begin on Tuesday May 14 and finish on Saturday May 18. So, all eyes will be on the television in May. Until then, you can listen to Joci Pápai’s song “Az Én Apám” below, filmed on the gritty side of Budapest. And enjoy the tulips and warm weather.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

Secretly Hungarian: Robert Downey Senior (and Jr.)

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Much was made in local press when it was recently revealed that Robert Downey Jr., of all people, has a bit of Hungarian blood coursing through his veins, some speculating that this is why he is so capable in the role of a superhero. But the part of the story that is being ignored is that, in being an eighth Hungarian, it also means that one of his parents is a quarter Hungarian. That parent, Robert Downey Sr., also happens to be a highly regarded filmmaker and actor, whose film Putney Swope is a cult classic.

The secretly Hungarian director has had a long career in and out of Hollywood. After getting his start in self-funded, low-budget film-making, Downey Sr., broke into big budget film making with the widely praised Greaser’s Palace in 1972. Coming up during Hollywood’s golden ‘auteur’ era, the director was highly regarded as an artist with a singular vision.

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He continued from his strong debut to make the screwball comedy Up the Academy. But it’s his non Hollywood efforts that he will be remembered for. Putney Swope, released in 1969, is considered one of the great absurdist cult films of all time. About an African-American ad executive, it satirizes consumer culture, white power, and corporate America. It is one of the few indie films selected by the National Film Registry and Library of Congress for preservation in the national collection.

Also importantly, it was Downey Sr., who gave Robert Downey, Jr. his first chance at acting. This came in the indie film Pound when Downey Jr. was just five years old. It is an interesting debut, in that Robert Downey Jr. was required to play a puppy.

The director hasn’t shied away from work in front of the camera either. Most notably he has had roles in To Live and Die in LA, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and Johnny Be Good. Magnolia director Paul Thomas Anderson cites the senior Downey as an inspiration for his style of film-making.

Sadly there is no evidence that either Downey has taken the time to return to Hungary and investigate their roots here, or make a film. But with so much film production taking place in Budapest and Hungary, it will be no surprise if at least Robert Downey Jr. makes his way to our city at some point. Until then, enjoy Robert Downey Sr directing his son in Pound.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach

Two Stars are Born: Budapest Ups its Michelin Star Count to Six

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A year or so ago we predicted on this site that the next Michelin star for a Budapest eatery would be bequeathed upon either Stand 25 or Babel. As it happened, both earned stars last week, bringing the total number of stars awarded to currently operating local establishments to six.

It was a mere 9 years ago when Michelin awarded its first star to a Budapest restaurant, giving the honor to Costes, which was situated on the one-time low-rent street Ráday Utca. A lot has changed since. Ráday has become a well-touristed walking street loaded with quality restaurants and shops, Costes has opened a second location, Costes Downtown, and dozens of other haute cuisine restaurants have opened.

via the Stand 25 Facebook page

via the Stand 25 Facebook page

One of those, Onyx, was helmed by Tamás Széll, an emerging Hungarian chef, and his co-chef Szabina Szulló. After winning a star for Onyx, Széll went on to open the less formal Stand 25, which features quality updates of Hungarian classics (their gulash soup is a legend in the making). The reasonable prices, downtown location, and casual feeling made Stand 25 a hit with diners. The feeling around town was that it was perhaps too casual for a star, but lately Michelin is moving beyond the white cloth experience, even awarding stars to street food stands. But Stand 25, despite the name, is far from street food, and if you have eaten there you know the star is well deserved under any conditions.

via the Stand 25 Facebook page

via the Stand 25 Facebook page

Babel had  been accumulating buzz for a while, and many were surprised it was passed over for the honor last year. Despite this, it won International Restaurant of the Year in 2017 from Decanter Magazine, which heaped praise on chef István Veres’, who draws inspiration from his native Transylvania when composing his dishes.

Via the Babel Facebook page

Via the Babel Facebook page

In profiling the restaurants in its just released 38th edition of the red guide to the ‘Main Cities of Europe’, which covers 38 cities in 22 countries, the Michelin critics had this to say of Stand 25: "A smart, formal restaurant with contemporary monochrome styling and a kitchen on view behind glass. The cooking is modern, but the unfussy dishes have their heart in the Hungarian classics; the confident kitchen taking a just a handful of top quality ingredients and allowing them to shine."

via the babel Facebook page

via the babel Facebook page

Of Babel Michelin said, "Cooking is innovative and flavorful: dishes on the Babel Classic menu are informed by the chef's Transylvanian heritage and each has a story to tell, while dishes on the Tasting Menu are more ambitious, with some playful elements." It also complimented the entire aesthetic of the restaurant.

If there are other deserving restaurants in Hungary that might have been over-looked for a Michelin star, leave them in the comments. We are always looking for great places to entertain guests and recommend to the professionals who come to Budapest and Hungary to take advantage of the delicious conditions here for film production.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach. 






The Power of Poetry: Bad Poems Picks Up Prize

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via the Bad Poems FB page

via the Bad Poems FB page

2018 was a banner year for film production in Hungary, with turizmusonline.com reporting a record 333 films registered in Hungary. Of this number, 245 were Hungarian, the rest foreign. That's thirty more Hungarian films than in 2017. This represents a boon for local film-making.

One of those films, Bad Poems, which was released earlier this year in Hungary, is beginning to make waves abroad. The feature by writer/director Gábor Reisz just won the Best Film Award at the 16th Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival. According to the Hungarian National Film Fund, who had a hand in providing incentives for the film, it was the first time that Hungarian movie got the top honor in Monte-Carlo. This year’s international jury was presided by the world famous director of Underground, Emir Kusturica.

The Film Fund describes the plot to Bad Poems as such: "33-years old Tamás Merthner is heartbroken, after his girlfriend Anna, who is on a scholarship in Paris, breaks up with him. While wallowing in self-pity, Tamás takes a trip down memory lane to figure out if love only exists when it's practically gone. As he's trying to pick up the pieces, he begins to realize what makes this current society so confused, which gives us a highly subjective view of Hungary's present." We have also learned that the story was developed at the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéfondation residency.

Cineuropa, in its largely ludatory review, described its action as "highly comical adventures filled with touching sensitivity." Dirty Movies (dmovies.org) which covered the film in its Tallin Black Nights Film Festival screening, rhapsodized, "Bad Poems is one of these magical films with the power to transform the ordinary into extraordinary, the very personal into something universal." It goes on to praise the director, who it is worth pointing out, also plays the 33-year-old protagonist, "The director has a fabulous sense of humour, with plenty of self-deprecating jokes throughout the film. And despite the protagonist’s broken heart, Bad Poems has a unapologetic joie-de-vivre."

This is the second feature for Reisz, whose previous film was the well received For Some Inexplicable Reason. Produced by Julia Berkes for Proton Cinema, Bad Poems is co-produced by Estelle Robin-You for French outfit Les Films du Balibari.

It turns out the Bad Poems makes for good film-making. May this deeply felt, imaginative film find continued success abroad. Below you can find the trailer for Bad Poems. It is in Hungarian with English subtitles.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach. 

Liquid Gold: The Pricey Pleasure of Tokaj Essencia

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via Royal Tokaji Co.

via Royal Tokaji Co.

Last week it emerged, via the money-minded folks at fortune.com, that the most expensive bottle of wine (at release) in the world was neither French nor Californian, but in fact Hungarian. That bottle is the fabled Essencia, this variety produced by the prestigious Royal Tokaji vineyard.

The news represents a great stride for local wine-making, as Hungary is still shedding its austere post-Soviet, Eastern Bloc image. Until the later part of the last century, the best vineyards in the country were still under state control, and the quality of wine had diminished to the point where it seemed like it may never recover. But as land returned to private hands of the families that made wine-making their business, and as children learned methods of quality wine-making abroad and returned home with that knowledge, Hungarian wine once again became a serious player on the world stage.

 Tokay (also spelled Tokaj) is one of the most beautiful regions of Hungary, so it's fitting that such a luxurious wine comes from its lush rolling hills. But just what justifies such a price tag? As Fortune tells it: "To produce a single magnum of the sweet, syrupy Essencia that Hungarian winemaker Royal Tokaji is now marketing for €35,000 a pop can require more than 400 pounds of grapes, not to mention a lengthy maturation. Each grape must be harvested by hand, placing Essencia among the most labor-intensive wines in the world." Moreover, there are only 18 bottles available for sale.

 If you have been lucky enough to visit Tokay and taste the rare wine, you know it is one of the most luxurious Earthly flavors you can enjoy. Writers have compared it to sunshine on the tongue. Wine writer Neal Martin described Essencia as “an otherworldly feat of nature,” in Barrons. Indeed, it is a rich and decadent tipple. Made with the use of 'noble rot' grapes that are left on the vine past maturation, it is the sweetest of dessert wines. Essencia differs from the better known and more affordable Aszú in that no wine base is used to mitigate the sweetness, and only hand-picked 'noble rot' grapes are used in its production.

But while this particular brand of Essencia is making headlines, you needn't spend 40,000 dollars to taste it. For a few hundred dollars or so, you can try Essencia from reputable Tokay wine makers, though with all the attention the wine is getting, we wouldn't be surprised if that price rises. But to get that deal while it lasts, you have to come to Hungary. That should hardly be a chore, and if you are working in film production, you are probably in or coming to Hungary anyway.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach. 

 

 

Filmed in Hollywood: Budapest!

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the-shop-around-the-corner.jpg


Usually in this space you will find us harping on the fact that Budapest is used as a location to represent so many other cities. But we know of at least one film where Budapest was recreated abroad – on a Hollywood lot, no less. Starring It’s A Wonderful Life actor James Stewart, we are referring, of course, to is the 1940 comedy A Shop Around the Corner.

In the pic, Stewart plays Alfred Kralik, an employee of a Budapest gift shop who doesn’t realize that he is falling in love with his nemesis at the shop via anonymous love letters they send to one another. Why, when the screenplay was written by an American, and the film’s primary players were all American – did they choose Budapest as the setting? It’s because the film is based on the stage play Parfumerie, by Hungarian Miklós Laszló.

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If the plot to A Shop Around the Corner sounds familiar, it is because Laszló’s play was used as the basis for two other subsequent films: In the Good Old Summertime, and most recently, the Tom Hanks/ Meg Ryan vehicle You’ve Got Mail. The script was also adapted for the Broadway musical She Loves Me. A contemporary of playwright Ferenc Molnar, Laszló – who was of Jewish extraction – was born in Budapest, but heeded pre-World War II warnings and moved to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen. He married while there, and worked on numerous film scripts before dying in 1973 in New York City.

It is worth mentioning that the story does take place around Christmas, so it is considered a Christmas film. Though A Shop Around the Corner never had the critical or commercial impact of Stewarts’ Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, it did make Time Magazine’s list of top 100 films.

Here’s a short clip from one of the more lively parts of A Shop Around the Corner. If you look over James Stewart’s shoulder, you can see a street sign in Hungarian: a bit of Hollywood-created Budapest.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

The Enduring Legacy of Paul Street Boys

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via Wikipedia Creative Commons

via Wikipedia Creative Commons

It was around fifty years ago – a half century – that the adaptation of Hungary's young adult classic Paul Street Boys, or Pál Utcai Fiúk, came out. Director Zoltán Fábri's version made a classic film from an already classic book. But far from being a relic of the past, Paul Street Boys continues to live on. The film was recently re-released in Hungary, the subtitled version was released in the States in 2015, the English translation of the book received a revision by a major author, and there is even an indie band named for the work.

Paul Street Boys was published back in 1906, written by Ferenc Molnár, the playwright and novelist who would become one of Hungary's most famous exports to the USA. The plot, set in 1889, concerns a gang of young boys residing in Budapest's roughest neighborhood. Having found a patch of land to call their turf, or 'the Grund' as it is known in the story, their street is soon threatened by an incursion of another gang, known as the Redshirts, culminating their having to defend their territory. Ultimately the book is about honor and bravery in the face of antagonism, and some would say, fascism.

via Wikipedia Creative Commons

via Wikipedia Creative Commons

The book has been translated into at least fourteen languages. Due to how the story resonates with the mood of pre-War Europe, the Hebrew translation made the book a classic in Israel. While it has yet to reach classic status in America, there are talks of another translation and re-release of the book for American readers. It is fair to say it would continue to resonate in this day, age, and climate.

The screenplay to the 1968 film was written by Molnár himself, so you can be sure the story was faithful to the book, though the author died sixteen years before that screenplay made its way to the screen. It is worth noting that the Hungarian film is not the first adaptation of Paul Street Boys. Director Mario Monicelli filmed an Italian version in 1935.

Despite experiencing huge success in the States, where his play Liliom was adapted for Broadway as the classic musical Carousel by the songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, Molnár's life there was marred by tragedy. In despair over the fate of his Hungarian contemporaries under the Nazi's and depressed by the suicide of his secretary and confidant, Molnár became a recluse in his Plaza Hotel room before dying of cancer in 1952 in New York.

Still, as with great artists, he lives on through his work. Paul Street Boys may be his most enduring prose. In the book and in the film, which will do doubt get a remake before long, the boys of the Grund also live on.

Below find the trailer for the 1968 film. It is in Hungarian, but easily understandable.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

The Sweet Syrian/Hungarian Confection Connection

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via the Ghraoui Facebook page

via the Ghraoui Facebook page

When you think of Hungarian chocolate, not much comes to mind. Even if you live in Hungary, the unchallenging chocolate produced by formerly state-owned companies, or the grocery-store bought chocolate of the multinationals doesn’t get the mouth watering or the imagination sparking. But it turns out there is amazing, sophisticated high-end chocolate to be had that is produced locally, and the interesting part of the story is that it is produced by a Syrian company.

Ghraoui Chocolate company recently opened a flagship store on Budapest’s tony Andrássy Avenue, joining prestigious brands like Burberry, Herendi, and Louis Vuitton. It is a long way from the working class district of Csepel Island where its factory is located, but much farther from Damascus, Syria, where the company has its origins. Founded over 200 years ago in 1805, the brand originally traded in commodities like sugar, coffee, tea and fruit. According to the company’s site: “After a visit to France in 1931, Sadek Ghraoui decided to introduce quality chocolate to consumers in the Middle East; to people used to traditional Arabic confectioneries, artisan chocolate was a new delicacy and a culinary discovery”.

via the Ghraoui Facebook page

via the Ghraoui Facebook page

Success seemed assured as the reputation of Ghraoui chocolate grew throughout the region and beyond. Indeed, their confections were available in England’s most iconic department stores like Fortnum & Mason, and Herrod’s, as well as in Fauchon and Hediard in Paris. Due to political turmoil in Syria, however, in the middle part of the twentieth century the company was twice nationalized, at one point leaving but one retail store in the hands of the Ghraoui family. But the company persevered, and again rebounded on an international scale, being “awarded the ‘Prix d’honneur’ award in 2005 at the most exclusive chocolate fair in Europe, the Salon du Chocolat trade fair in Paris.”

It would be in the wake of the civil war in Syria that in 2012 that Ghraoui finally closed operations in Damascus, electing to open a factory in Hungary, a place they had business ties. In addition to those employed by their retail outlet, the factory employs upwards of fifty people. According to the site welovebudapest, “The company’s main goal is to reintroduce the Ghraoui brand as a Hungarian product and they commissioned a dozen Syrian chocolatiers to provide all the necessary training to the local team. To honour the host country, a distinct Magyar line has recently been featuring such treats as Coeur de Budapest (Heart of Budapest), Jardine de Sissi (Sissi’s Garden, after the Habsburg empress) and Couronne de Saint Étienne (Crown of St. Stephen, Hungary’s first king).”

via the Ghraoui Facebook page

via the Ghraoui Facebook page

Fabled American news anchor Diane Sawyer once visited Ghraoui Chocolates and asked if there were indeed the best chocolate makers in the world. If that is true, then chocolate in Hungary is famous after all, but with a Syrian twist. This all makes for a very sweet story for Ghraoui Chocolate. With a tasty flavor combination of Damascus and Budapest, how could it be otherwise?

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.

Space Cowboys: The Brief History of Hungarian Astronauts

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With so many science-fiction film productions taking advantage of Budapest’s amazing studio facilities, and overall the favorable conditions of film production in Hungary, it’s easy to forget that in terms of real life science and scientific exploration, Hungarians have a long and illustrious history. It is well known that the core group who invented the atom bomb were largely Hungarian. It is less known that Hungary has both a pioneering astronaut who has traveled to space and can also claim one of the first space tourists.

via spacefacts.de

via spacefacts.de

Born in 1949, Bertalan Farkas would become one of the players in the space race between the USA and the Soviet Union. Indeed he was partially educated in Russia, graduating from the prestigious Krasnodar Military Aviation Institute. In 1978 Farkas volunteered to be a cosmonaut, and was chosen for the Soviet Intercosmos program. Ultimately, Farkas made the cut and was selected to be sent into space along with Soviet cosmonaut Valeri Kubasov. They were launched into space on the rocket Soyuz 36 on May 26, in 1980, much to the reported worry of Farkas’ family.

Farkas spent a week in space on the Salyut 6 Space Station, orbiting the Earth 124 times while conducting experiments. Upon returning to Earth, he was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, and took up the somewhat more earth-bound pursuits of tennis and politics.

The second Hungarian to take up space travel represented the capitalist West, and indeed enlisted a profit-making enterprise in his quest to see space. One of the first space tourists, Charles Simonyi is said to have paid upwards of 50 million dollars to be among the first ten or so tourists in space. Simonyi, however, has the distinction of having been the only return customer, taking the space journey twice through an American space tourism company.

Famous for his development of ubiquitous software for Microsoft, including Word and Excel, Simonyi is a billionaire many times over, and can probably fly into space as much as he wants. But that doesn’t mean it was easy, or he was pampered. According to Forbes “Simonyi spent six months training alongside cosmonauts in Star City, near Moscow, where he exercised, learned about spaceflight and survival...He had to see nearly 100 doctors and pass dozens of medical tests.”

Insignia of Simonyi’s rocket, via Wikipedia

Insignia of Simonyi’s rocket, via Wikipedia

The two astronauts’ stories coincide in that both trips were on Russian Soyuz rockets. Also, much like Farkas, Simonyi had to study Russian in order to undertake his journey. Once on the space station, however, he was subject to the same zero-gravity effects that apply to space travelers of all nationalities, allowing him to float instead of walk. Forbes also reports that once in space, Simonyi played a round of ‘space golf’.

“It’s the speed that’s the most amazing. Every 90 minutes, you see spring, you see fall, you see the Arctic, you see the tropics, you see night, you see day,” Simonyi told Forbes. “I realized it was an extraordinary experience, and I just had to take it all in.”

Soyuz rocket ship via Wikipedia. Photo by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Soyuz rocket ship via Wikipedia. Photo by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Hungarian science can’t be accused of having its head in the clouds. That said, these two Hungarians who have traveled beyond our atmosphere are both dreamers and adventurers to be commended.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.


Secretly (Faithfully) Hungarian: Marianne Faithfull

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By Photographer: A. Vente - Beeld & Geluid Wikipedia Commons

By Photographer: A. Vente - Beeld & Geluid Wikipedia Commons

It is well known that many Hungarians past and present built the film industry in Hollywood and continue to contribute to its health, whether they are first generation Hungarians or descendants of Hungarian immigrants. But Hungary also has its representatives in other fields of entertainment, like rock and pop music (for example, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Gene Simmons of KISS). But less known is that folk-rock songstress and muse to artists like The Hollies, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones, — Marianne Faithfull — also has Hungarian blood.

While she herself is British, having grown up mostly in Reading, Faithfull's mother was named Eva, and was born in Budapest, moving to the Vienna in 1918. Eva's last name, von Sacher-Masoch, while not traditionally Hungarian, does merit mention, as it will invoke her kinky relative, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the author of erotic novels like Venus in Furs, and after whom the word 'masochism' was coined.

 Marianne Faithful was also an outlier. She began her career in 1964 in the coffee-houses of London, when there were few female solo artists. She soon caught the eye of management connected to The Rolling Stones, resulting in her first hit single "As Tears Go By," which was composed and written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was an auspicious beginning, and also the beginning of a love affair with Jagger, for whom Faithfull would leave her husband.

While she held her own as a singer and writer, she is equally well known as a muse for those who fell in love with her. The Rolling Stones' songs "You Can't Always Get What You Want," "Wild Horses," and "I Got the Blues" were all reputedly written about Marianne Faithfull. Less known is that The Hollies’ hit single “Carrie Anne” is also about Marianne Faithful.

Faithfull suffered through much in her life, including addiction and homelessness. She lost custody of her children, and her career stalled. The 80s, however, signaled a comeback and move to New York City, where she reinvented herself as a jazz, blues, and torch-song singer. She would later return to the eclectic side of rock collaborating with such artists as PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and doing vocal work with Metallica, all proving her timelessness and versatility. In 2007 Faithfull was listed by VH1 as the 25th all time greatest female of rock.

In 2014 Faithful came to Budapest (for the first time?) to sing at the exquisite concert hall MUPA. It was widely regarded as a triumphant performance. Let's hope she returns soon, to Hungary, where her roots are.

Flatpack Films has many years of experience dedicated to offering expert servicing. It has brought the best of Hungary to countless brands, agencies, and production companies through its unique locations, exceptionally skilled crews, top of the line equipment and technical solutions. Backed by an impeccable track record, Flatpack Films has worked with world-class clients including Samsung, Samsonite, Toyota, Braun, Chivas Regal and many more - bringing their projects to life through a highly bespoke approach.