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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.

Remembering the Life of Hungarian Director Ferenc Kósa

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Yesterday marked the passing of one of Hungary’s film greats, when Ferenc Kósa died at the age of 81. Though he had a long and prolific career in film and politics, he is perhaps best known for his film Ten Thousand Days (Tízezer nap), which chronicles the trials of a 1930’s Hungarian peasant family. The film was an international success, winning Kósa the Best Director award at the 1967 Cannes Film Festival despite being temporarily banned in Hungary by the reigning Socialist government, which viewed the film as being critical of their agenda.

Born in 1937 in Nyírigyháza in eastern Hungary, the director had to walk a fine line toiling under the Soviet occupation. As a result, his films were subtly political and drew the ire of the authorities. For example Mission (Küldetés), a biopic of multi-medal pentathlon athlete Andras Balczo, was initially a smash in Hungary, but soon banned due to perceived criticism of the Communist party.

Kósa collaborated on many of his scripts with the acclaimed poet and author Sándor Csoóri and with the cinematographer Sándor Sára, making films such as Ten Thousand Days, Judgment (1970) and 1974’s Snowfall. All in all, Kósa directed thirteen films.

The Hungarian Academy of Arts had this to say about Kósa: "Through his talent and commitment, (Kósa) played a defining role in the renovation of the Hungarian film artistry of the era. Ten Thousand Days belongs by now to the classical assets of not just Hungarian, but universal film history."

Critics lauded the writer/director while he was alive, and Ten Thousand Days still enjoys a following with those who are fans of serious European film. Kinoeast, for instance, had this to say about Ten Thousand Days: “The film is ultimately a brilliant saga of the life of a stubborn peasant at the precipice of fast- changing history in Hungary. Kósa uses water not just as a metaphor of time, but also as the weight of experience and the lack of control an individual possesses,” and sums up the film’s role under the political system: “Even though Kósa’s Tízezer Nap may not have the obvious parallel commentary that a (Miklós) Jancsó film might have, I don’t believe the film was intended to be propaganda for the Socialist movement. Censorship seems to cloud Kósa’s original intent of showing a Hungary that was being lost as Socialism continued where Fascism left off, crushing a lower class that only wanted to climb out of poverty.”

Despite his censorship under the Soviets, Kósa entered politics with the Socialist party after Hungary regained its independence. He served as a representative in Parliament  from 1990 to 2006. Ferenc Kósa’s loss will be felt in both the quick changing film and political landscapes.

 Photo by Délmagyarország/Kuklis István via Wikipedia Commons

Photo by Délmagyarország/Kuklis István 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.

X - The eXploited Makes X-plosive Debut

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One refreshing thing that has been happening recently in the local film industry is an embrace of more genre-influenced film-making. Hungarian film is traditionally known for its ponderous, art-house fare, exemplified perhaps by the highly regarded films of Béla Tarr. But a younger generation of filmmakers who have been influenced by more commercial releases are applying their strong knowledge of craft to creating films that have broader commercial appeal. We are thinking of recent films like White God, Blossom Valley, and Strangled, all of which were stylish Hungarian films that found audiences in Hungary and abroad.

The latest offering in this category is a Hungarian film called X - the eXploited, by writer-director Károly Ujj Mészáros. A crime thriller, it has been shown at multiple international film festivals, including the Chicago Film Festival. The film’s promise was recently validated when it won the Volkswagen Financial Services Film Award at the 32nd Braunschweig International Film Festival, which includes a 10,000 euro prize sponsored by the automaker.

The jury had this to say about the film: “‘X - The eXploited’ convinces with an extremely dense, always surprising arc of tension, realised with great attention to detail. Original pictorial symbolism perfectly stages the consistently strong, character-rich ensemble around the traumatised policewoman Eva. Secret services from the communist past, which have gone into hiding, once again create fear and terror against the background of the current conflicts about a democratic future. The gloomy style is thus anything but a decorative end in itself but is the causal driver of history.”

A writer at the Chicago Film Festival summarized the film’s plot nicely: “The highly anticipated second feature from the director of the 2015 box office hit Liza, the Fox Fairy is an intense and stylish crime drama that evokes the unsettled legacy of Hungary’s Communist past. Personal traumas rise to surface as a murder mystery unfolds in present-day Budapest, where talented investigative detective Éva must overcome her panic attacks in order to save her country—and herself.” Cineuropa called the film a ‘pure genre film’ before praising it for its story’s effectiveness and the potential for the director.

The writer/director, Ujj Mészáros, has already been widely lauded for his previous film, Lisa the Fox-Fairy, which was shown internationally, including earning a prize spot in the Cinéfondation section of the Cannes Film Festival. According to the Hungarian National Film Fund site, the director’s 10 short films have won 12 prizes at more than 30 national and international festivals.

Whether this new commercial direction is good or bad is up to your taste. But that Hungary has feet in both camps speaks a lot to its dynamic local film-making industry.

Below find the Hungarian language trailer for X - the eXploited with English subtitles.


Location Spotter: History on a Plate at Gundel Restaurant

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Michelin stars may be falling over Budapest with some regularity these days, but it remains true that there is still only one internationally famous restaurant that fully reflects the city’s textured history. One that is steeped in the style of the Monarchy, in its interiors and on its menu, while staying relevant on the city’s quick changing culinary map. This is of course Gundel Étterem, the grand dame of Budapest eateries, a place that exudes history and tradition.

 photo via the Gundel FB page

photo via the Gundel FB page

Gundel was opened in 1910 by Károly Gundel in the central and very film friendly Városliget, or, City Park. The The New York Times famously wrote that Gundel “did more for Hungary’s reputation than a shipload of tourist brochures.” But like most great cultural institutions, it was nationalized by the Socialist-minded government of the late 20th century, leading to a decline in quality. It was only returned to its true glory when it was returned to private ownership, once purchased by moguls Ronald Lauder and George Lang. Among the famous faces who have dined on their upscale yet traditional Hungarian fare since then have including Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain as well as Pope John Paul II.

 photo via Wikipedia Commons.

photo via Wikipedia Commons.

 photo via the Gundel FB page

photo via the Gundel FB page

The main room at Gundel is a model of Hapburgian luxury. It is no surprise that it has served as a location for multiple films shot in Budapest, most recently 2015’s Spy, with Jude Law and Melissa McCarthy.

But it’s impossible to talk about Gundel without bringing up the famous dessert, the Gundel Pancake, a sweet flambeed crepe. The wife of Hungarian writer Sándor Márai, whose book Embers was a New York Times best-seller in the States, is credited with its invention. Daily Hungary relates it this way:  “...the theatrical adaptation of his novel titled Before Consulting was presented in the October of 1940. The banquet following the premiere was held in the Gundel Restaurant. Ilona Matzner (Lola) made one of her family’s specialties, pancakes filled with walnut, raisin and orange zest for the occasion. Károly Gundel liked it so much that he put it on the menu under the name of Márai pancake. But after the emigration of the couple, he renamed it to Gundel pancake.”

 photo by dpotera via Wikipedia Commons

photo by dpotera via Wikipedia Commons

For old school luxury in Budapest, ideal for so many stories and uses, it is hard to beat Gundel Restaurant. Oh, and in addition to being a smartly chosen location, you can also eat there, making it all the more inviting.

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 After the Siege – in Heart-Wrenching Photographs

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One for history buffs, translated and with the permission of foretplan.444.hu

We could also call it 130 pictures in memory of our dying hours, referencing the title of Lajos Kassák’s work [Kis könyv a haldoklásunk emlékére, 1945]. It is February 13. Today, it has been 69 years since the siege of Budapest came to an end. We no longer talk about ‘liberation,’ but we don’t really have a better word for it. (The Soviet forces did not officially liberate Budapest, but rather captured an enemy city. At least they are clear about this.)

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“Budapest is the most wonderful city imaginable. There is no other like it in the German Empire… However, from a historical standpoint, it is unforgivable that the most beautiful city along the Nibelung river should belong to the ancestors of Attila and his huns.” – Adolf Hitler once stated. In the winter of 1944, he himself gave an order to protect the city – each and every house – as a key military stronghold. What we see in the 130 photographs recently shared on Fortepanon is the result of this apocalyptic and completely senseless battle – as told through the ruins, the missing residents, the buildings, themselves.

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The military action to occupy the city lasted for 102 days. During the siege, around 28,000 civilians lost their lives – among them 15,000 Budapesters of Jewish descent. The Soviets not only lost 80,000 soldiers, but the number of their wounded approached 240,000. The number of German and Hungarian soldiers lost – including both those killed and injured – reached 100,000. As a result of the siege, around a quarter of the city’s 40,000 buildings were either destroyed or seriously damaged. The Germans blew up all of the bridges across the Danube; entire squares disappeared, for example Honvéd Square and Szent György Square. The city was transformed into a mountain of corpses and, especially on the Buda side, a pile of debris. Furthermore, while the siege was going on, another war was also underway – the campaign of the Arrow Cross against the Jews of the capital city.

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Now we will try and jump over these 102 days, even if with this jump it will be harder to make sense of everything we see in these pictures. László Deseő, who was 15 years old in 1944, wrote about the fateful final/first days in his diary, writing from the basement of their Mészáros street house.

It is morning and there is heavy shelling. Sometimes they shell the house for a good quarter of an hour. Every three minutes the whole house shakes and we can hear debris falling. (…) For me, the worst part of living in this basement is the humiliation we have to endure. The Germans asked us for wood. We didn’t want to give it to them from the firewood storage room, because we have our cases stored in there. So we gave them wood from the large room instead, but those were big logs. They made us chop them up. While we chopped, they laughed. We have to clean the toilet up after them, because if it is full, they simply go on the floor next to it. They light open fires in the rooms with wood flooring. All of our furniture is used as barricades. The situation is unbearable. (…)

The Russians are at the Preisengers’ place. That’s the third house down from here. At 5 o’clock, the Germans leave, because they heard that the Russians had surrounded them and were attacking from Naphegy. (…) 8:30. The Germans came back. At 9 the Germans went out again. The shelter emptied out. I snuck up to have a look around. The Germans are still in our apartment. There are dead horses in every direction. There is a faint aroma of blood and corpses, blending delicately with smoke. It is cold. Manure is knee-high in the rooms. It’s hard to see. (…) The Germans are standing around freezing. They’ve become soft. They even kindly remind me that if I don’t go back to the basement, they will kill me, since civilians are not allowed on the front line. I put them at ease with the fact that this won’t be the front line for long. They are reassured. Apparently, they burned down the Déli train station. At 11 o’clock the Germans will leave the house, perhaps for good. Either they will return, or the Russians will come.

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At 2:45 in the morning, the first two Russians arrive. They are all decked out. They have automatic weapons with them. They are giddy. They shake hands with the paramedics and the wounded hiding here. They laugh at them. They say that if they feel like it, they could go back to the Germans, but they’ll be all right in Russian hands. They ask for rum. When they get the rum in small glasses, they hand them back saying, “big Russian glasses!” But we are not afraid of them. (…) I went up to the apartment. It is a tragic thing to go from room to room. There are eight dead horses in the apartment. The walls are red with blood as high as a man stands. It is full of all kinds of manure and excrement. Almost the entire floor of the loft has collapsed. Every door, cabinet, piece of furniture, window is smashed. Nothing has been left intact. There is hardly any plaster left on the walls. There are German armored cars abandoned in front of the building. (…) There is no wall between the bedroom window and the window of Katica’s room. People are walking on dead horses. The soft bodies of the horses are malleable. If people jump on them, blood bubbles and squelches from their bullet wounds. (…)

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The Russians came in the morning. They were looking for schnapps [pálinka]. They didn’t find any, so they left. We hear more and more reports of Russians harassing women. (…) The Potzonyis come over in the afternoon. They told us how the Russians had taken everything from their place. When I was out in the street, a Russian put a demijohn in my hands and wanted to take me somewhere. The superintendent of the neighboring house came over. I gave the bottle to him, so the Russian took him away instead. I am curious as to where he took him.

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Anything that wasn’t destroyed by the Germans was plundered by the Red Army. Marietta Seidl remembered the destruction of their home on Gellért Hill in this way: “The Russians lived in the villa for more than half a year. During this time, they didn’t even clear away the rubble from the rooms that had been decimated by gunfire. When they suddenly moved out at the end of the summer, we were met with a horrifying picture. They took practically everything that they hadn’t burnt or thrown into the craters left by the bombs. They left no trace of the piano, the paintings, furniture, rugs – at least what they hadn’t already cut up for horse blankets or curtains for their trucks. And they also took 13 doors and altogether 72 window frames. (…) In all the rooms stood the meter-high remains of my grandfather’s library: a pile of human excrement then an open book placed on top of it, then a newer pile, and another book, stretching to such a height that, from a comfort point of view, it was incomprehensible to us. These towers decorated the rooms like skyscrapers standing next to each other, emanating the most unbearable odor.

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On December 30, 1944, Lieutenant-General Iván Hindy, the leader of the Hungarian armed forces in Budapest, reported, “The local patriotism of the civilians in Budapest is so great that the people are in mourning; they aren’t even worried about their own fate, but are in despair over the destruction of the city. Everyone is horrified by the thought that we might be forced to blow up all of the bridges.

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Maybe it is not so far fetched to think that these pictures might have been taken by such a local patriot. In such arresting detail, these photos are able to capture the state of the city – for the most part Castle Hill, the Víziváros district, and Gellért Hill – in the spring/summer of 1945. The dead bodies that were pulled out from under rubble or horses, from basements or from the Danube, have already been buried. We can see memorials to a few of them – temporary wooden crosses placed here and there in grassy areas and parks.

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We received the 130 photographs from Dr István Kramer, a lawyer. In the early 1970s, the photographer’s widow (unfortunately he no longer remembers her name) gave him the prints developed from the original negatives. The photographer might be unknown, but he/she is probably identifiable. There weren’t so many people who could have gone through so many of the streets of the resuscitated city in such detail. Tibor Csörgeő, János Kunszt, Tibor Inkey – maybe the photographer hides among them. What is certain: when the photographer was taking this series of pictures, he/she couldn’t have had any other thought than to capture the scene for posterity and reparation. Perhaps this is why the style of the photographs seems to be without empathy, dry, and factual – and so, this is how Budapest looked in 1945.

References:

Krisztián Ungváry, Miklós Tamási. Budapest 1945

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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: Ellie Goulding's "Close to Me"

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Breakout recording artist Ellie Goulding just released the video for her new single “Close to Me”, racking up over half a million views on You Tube in only a few days. While the video was shot in Budapest, like so many other music videos, there is a distinguishing feature that makes this particular one exceptional: at the beginning of the clip Budapest gets named as such. There is no shortage of chic, stylish videos that use Budapest as a backdrop to great effect (we are thinking of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” and Selena Gomez’s “Round and Round”), but rare is the video that makes it a point of naming the location.

This may seem like a small thing, but in fact it represents something larger. In the past decade, Budapest has become not just a go-to destination for tourists, but even also one for film-makers, to the point that it is no longer just a stand in for other cities, but a highly recognizable location, and one worth bragging about.

The video itself makes good use of some tried and true locations. We see the recently renovated Fisherman’s Bastion, as well as the grounds around the Buda Palace. One noticeable difference between the “Close to Me” video and so many others shot here is that it is sunny. Not just the weather, but the whole tone of the video. Budapest is so frequently used for its chilly Soviet feel, or dark Gothic atmosphere, but rare is the bright whimsy on show here, in a video which exploits this under-utilized aspect of our dynamic, ever-changing city.

Of course we weren’t the first to notice the stylish video for “Close to Me.” Its release was actually covered by Rolling Stone magazine, which called it a “fashionable romp through Budapest,” and was quick to point out that the city is indeed scenic. Elsewhere in international coverage, MTV News calls the video “a posh, scenic glamour reel.”  There’s that word -- scenic -- again. Indeed, from the opening drone shot through to the final, drone shot from over Gellért Hill, there is a scenic glamour here in the scenery in between, particularly in the Gellért bath-house, that make one feel as though Budapest has brushed off the dust of its past and come into its own.

And it has. though really, this is only the beginning.

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.

Hungarians in Hollywood: the Hargitay Daddy Daughter Duo

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The film industry in Hollywood is rife with family dynasties, from the Douglas family to the Coppolas. Due to the out-sized proportion of Hungarians who have shaped and worked in Hollywood, it only makes sense that entertainment will run in the blood of a few Hungarian families. You could look to the Curtis family, with legend Tony Curtis and his perennial scream-queen daughter Jamie Lee Curtis. And then there are the Hargitay’s: Mickey and Mariska, both accomplished Hungarian/American actors.

 via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

Mickey Hargitay, like so many Hungarian emigres to the US, was born in the early 20th century, in 1926 Budapest. Originally named Miklós, at a young age he joined his family in their troupe of acrobats, touring the country to perform in front of large audiences. Later in his youth he took up figure skating. Then, when trouble struck in the form of World War Two, he took up arms as part of a resistance movement, before fleeing for the United States at the age of twenty-one.

Like many Hungarians, he settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a plumber while re-starting his career as an acrobat with his his new American wife. But inspired by the film Hercules, he decided to take up body-building, and then went on to hone his craft and win Mr. Universe contest in 1955.

After leaving his wife for mega-star Jane Mansfield, Hargitay caught the interest of film producers. Fittingly, one of his more famous roles was that of Hercules.  Though he never rose to the iconic level of Mansfield, he had a long career as an actor, most recently working on the TV series Law and Order.

 Hargitay and Mansfield via Wikipedia Commons

Hargitay and Mansfield via Wikipedia Commons

Though Hargitay died in 2006, his mantle is carried on by his daughter Mariska. Born in 1964 from his marriage with Mansfield (there’s a pedigree) Mariska Hargitay got her start in acting in a small role in the classic comedy Ghoulies. Since then, her career has followed a varied path, with roles in such dissimilar projects as Leaving Las Vegas, the soap Falcon Crest, and Baywatch. But she is best known for her long-running role on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.


 via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

There is a strong vein of Hungarian pride in the family, with her brothers bearing the Hungarian names Zoltán and Miklós. The children were brought up to speak Hungarian, which the Mariska capably demonstrates in the below video.

And, of course, when Hargitay won her Emmy in 2006, she thanked her father, fellow Hungarian Mickey.

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: Fiumei Road Cemetery

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As it's just past the Day of the Dead, we're going to take a dark road towards the edge of town to look at Budapest’s greatest mostly untouristed landmark, Fiumei Road Cemetery, more commonly known as Kerepesi Cemetery. Day of the Dead is when so many families visit the graves of their departed, often after dark, lighting the cemetery with candles, and is frequently accompanied by music (Mozart's Requiem is a typical offering at Kerepesi Cemetery).

 Lajos Kossuth’s crypt via Wikipedia Commons

Lajos Kossuth’s crypt via Wikipedia Commons

Kerepesi itself is notable in that while its grounds suffered from poor maintenance for some years, its gravestones, tombs, and mausoleums, have been well preserved since the middle of the nineteenth century. To walk through it is to walk through the varied styles of architecture of Budapest in facsimile. You will find stunning examples of Art Deco, Bauhaus, and of course Gothic styles. Moreover, it is one of the biggest Pantheons in Europe, and a park so expansive that it’s not unheard of to discover pheasant taking refuge in its underbrush (the graveyard even keeps a guide to its flora and fauna). According to the graveyard’s dedicated site: "Artists, Jacobins, heroes of the revolutions from 1848 and 1956 are buried on separate plots, and there is a huge mausoleum that recalls the cult of the dead during the times of the party state. The grave park, that resembles an arboretum lies on 56 hectares, is also known for its rich flora and fauna."

 Ferenc Déak’s tomb via Wikipedia Commons

Ferenc Déak’s tomb via Wikipedia Commons

Below are some curious facts about Kerepesi Cemetery:

It is the fourth burial ground for József Attila, Hungary's beloved tragic poet.

There is a special section allotted to suicides, the executed, and others denied a church burial.

Béla Bartók's son forbade his father's ashes from being kept there due to its use as a favorite burial spot among the then ruling Socialist party.  

There is also an 'Artists' Quarter' where the country's notable artists are buried.

Some of Hungary's luminaries who are buried at Kerepesi include: Endre Ady, Mihály Babits, György Faludi, Ödön Lechner, Leó Szilárd, Mihály Munkácsi, Imre Kertész, Miklós Jancsó, and Georg Lukács

Behind Kerepesi Cemetery is the smaller but equally atmospheric Salgótarjáni Street Jewish Cemetery.

There is an excellent Hungarian language site for the cemetery which helps locate graves and gives suggested walks for visitors. You can find that here.

 via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

 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.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruben Brandt Has Artful Impact Abroad

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As the film industry in Hungary develops, one thing we notice is that local film-making is increasingly crossing over with international audiences. Much of this seems due to the broad appeal of the projects that are undertaken, mixed with a distinct sense of ‘voice’ when it comes to films from Hungary. Looking at pictures like the multi-lingual Hier (see an interview with the director here) much of which took place in northern Africa, and the visionary, narrative friendly Sunset, we see a bridge between what was once a very insular industry and the larger world audiences. This has never been more true than with the recently released animated film Ruben Brandt, Collector.

This full-length, hand-drawn animated feature exploits the much loved genre of the art caper. The film was conceived of and directed by Slovenian-born Milorad Krstic and made in Hungary with English-language and Hungarian speaking actors, meaning there are both English and Hungarian versions. The story follows the character Rubin Brandt, a man who is haunted by nightmares of being attacked by the world's most famous paintings, including works by Botticelli, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Hopper, Picasso and Warhol. To put an end to his torment, he plots to steal and possess the art from such museums and the Louvre, Tate, Uffizi, Hermitage, and MoMA, and keep them for himself, thereby robbing them of their power.

The film, widely praised for its expert animation and intimate knowledge of the art world, has been bringing in strong reviews from the trades. Daily Variety said: "While Krstić is especially good at providing noir atmosphere (jazzy, smoke-filled dives, ominous shadows, and references to Mike Hammer films), he positively excels at high-octane action." The Hollywood Reporter says it is "ingeniously imagined," and "Ruben Brandt’s pacing is amazingly fast for a film filled to the brim with art-history references and ideas borrowed from modern psychology and lovers of either field will have a, well, field day spotting the countless visual and verbal references."

In a show of its belief in the film's international appeal, last September Sony Pictures Classics acquired rights to distribute it in North American and Latin America. Ruben Brandt, Collector is the feature animation debut of 66-year-old Krstić, though his short My Baby Left Me won the Silver Bear at the Berlin film festival. Let's hope Brandt continues to collect great reviews, and paints a pretty picture at the box office.

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.

Interview with Bálint Kenyeres, Director of Hier

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The following is an interview with up-and-coming Hungarian film director Bálint Kenyeres, whose feature film Hier was recently released. The interview, conducted by Bori Bujdosó, appeared on the site for The Hungarian National Film Fund, and is reprinted with their permission.

Bálint Kenyeres’ short film, ‘Before Dawn’ was in the 2005 competition in Cannes, and went on to win the European Film Award. His follow-up, the 2009 ‘The History of Aviation’ premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight at the festival, and also won accolades all over the world. His first feature, called ‘Hier’, will debut in the ‘Cineasti del Presente’ competition of the Locarno Film Festival. We talked to the director about the challenging process of bringing the script to life, a film noir bereft of any actual mysteries, and the brilliance of Vlad Ivanov.

In an old interview you said you would like to complete your first feature before your hair turns grey – you didn’t quite manage to accomplish this goal.

True enough, making this movie was a lengthy process, and back when I started I wasn’t quite able to assess the level of outside interest in a film like this, or the requisites for such a story. We’ve also experienced an unlucky streak right from the beginning; sometimes it touched on the absurd, and it made me wonder what else could go south. It’s my personal responsibility that we have never given up, but it always felt like going into production was just around the corner, there wasn’t a specific point, when it became obvious that we should just quit.

During preproduction, you described the movie as a film noir in broad daylight. Please tell me more about the visual concept of Hier.

The North African setting was a given. I chose it because it’s only half an hour away from Europe, but it’s like an alien landscape to a European, who can get lost there in a way it wouldn’t be possible to do in Europe. This environment lends itself to visual clichés and romanticization, but I was confident that I didn’t want this, that there would be no camels, or orange-coloured sand dunes in the sunset in this movie.

Regarding only the story and its resolution, it’s a banal story carrying all the sadness of its banality, and the visuals of the movie had to reflect this. It’s awfully simple, really: there’s nothing in the shadows, nothing lurks in the dark, everything’s out there in the blazing sun. The source of the mystery is not some external entity, but the protagonist himself. The solution shouldn’t be sought in the long shadows and dark corners, instead it is revealed by the way the story unfolds for us through an unreliable narrator. The film is also a journey back to the era 15 to 20 years prior to when the film’s set, so we tried to evoke the visual atmosphere of movies from the 90s without creating a retro feel. This is one of the reasons why I found it very important to shoot on film, which meant Super 16 in our case, because that’s what we could afford.

  Hier  by Bálint Kenyeres

Hier by Bálint Kenyeres

Did you have any previous connection to North Africa?

None, whatsoever. I traveled to Morocco for the first time after I’d completed the first draft of the script, and the reality I witnessed there was uncannily close to what I had written. I went back many times, and in the later drafts I included locations, moments, experiences that my colleagues and I encountered there.

The lead actor has changed several times throughout the years.

 Vlad Ivanov had always been part of the cast in another role, and he’d always been in the back of my mind as a possible option for the lead role, but in the script Ganz was a Western European character, and Vlad has a very distinct Eastern European presence. In the end, we went with Vlad and chose to mould the character to his personality instead. But if Vlad takes on a role, it adjusts itself to him anyway. I think he is one of the greatest European movie actors, and he is also a charming person.

Did you enjoy working with him?

 That’s an understatement. He also carried this project on his shoulders, like very few would have been able to. He has an amazing heart and soul, yet he’s as precise and focused as a Swiss watch. And he has a director’s mind, he instinctively directs the situations from the inside. We only had 32 shooting days, we worked with a lot of non-professional actors, and he was brilliant at extinguishing potential fires. On several occasions, by the time I went from the monitor to the camera and was about to give instructions to Vlad’s partner, he had already taken care of the situation.

  Hier  by Bálint Kenyeres

Hier by Bálint Kenyeres

The past of the character is only hinted at, and the whole film plays with how many things are left ambiguous. How did you decide on how closely to guide the audience?

This fine-tuning is the key to whether the film works or not, and the way we handle it also determines the possible audience for the film. We wrote many versions of the script, and they differed mostly in this respect, but there has never been a version telling the story in a mainstream, audience-friendly way. We knew that this film was only for a discerning audience. The goal was to provide information at a rate that would keep the suspense alive.

Weren’t you worried that the audience wouldn’t be able to emotionally connect to this character?

The point of this auteurial experiment was precisely not to base the story on the usual emotional identification with the protagonist. I didn’t want this to happen. The casting and the direction also goes against this form of identification: the protagonist is basically an unlikeable guy. The driving force is more to do with the mysteries and the questions that keep arising, which make the viewer realize that even though there is no emotional identification in the traditional sense, the thoughts and feelings that arise in the viewer are very similar to the ones the protagonist has. This was a rather presumptuous experiment on my part, but if I am proud of anything, it is the fact that it seems to have worked, based on the feedback received. On the surface, the film seems to be about someone going through midlife crisis, but in fact, it is the examination of a fundamental human issue. However banal and simple this guy’s story might be, his experiences and his misfortune are special and unique – just like everyone else’s. Whether these experiences can be shared with others, and whether we can really connect and identify with another person, is a different matter altogether. This is one of the main themes of the movie, and we chose our narrative strategy to serve this.

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.


Hungary's Unexpected New Star: Dry Furmint Has Its Moment, and Then Some

zita kisgergely

 photo via Cellar Door Wines

photo via Cellar Door Wines


It's always exciting when a remarkable Hungarian makes waves abroad. Lately, we have seen so many, from film directors to novelists and artists. But it's just as thrilling to discover that a piece of local culture is being pegged as the next 'big thing' in an industry known for its exclusivity and sophistication. We are talking about the embrace of a Hungarian varietal, Tokaji furmint, by international wine merchants and connoisseurs.

Tokaj wine has always found a place on the tables of epicureans: it has been this way for centuries. But it has always been the sweet Tokaji Aszú dessert wine, known as the 'wine of kings' that got all the attention. Now, however, vineyards and fine wineries are turning to what was once considered the plain sister of Aszú: dry furmint, and are getting overwhelming feedback on the results.

 For instance, we can cite a sizable article in The Guardian, which asks if dry furmint is the next big wine discovery: "If I had to take a punt on what white wine we’re going to be talking about this year, I’d put my money on furmint. Hungary’s answer to Austria’s grüner veltliner already appears on many fashionable wine lists," wine writer Fiona Beckett said in 2017. The article goes on to favorably compare it to a white burgundy, and points out that the varietal even has its own dedicated web site in America: furmintusa.com.

 photo by András Kovács via Wikipedia

photo by András Kovács via Wikipedia

The website is backed by a powerful marketing initiative, according to Forbes.com. Over seventy tastings of furmint were recently held coast to coast in the States to woo interest from American wine enthusiasts. The article, which calls furmint "lush, intensely sweet and acidic" goes on to detail some huge competition wins for the brand: "In 2016, two Dry Furmints took top medals at the Sunset Magayineás International Wine Competition in Sonoma, California: Barta 2013 Furmint Szamorodni Oreg Kiraly Dulo (Best of Class and Gold Medal) and Béres 2011 Dry Furmint, Lőcse (Gold Medal). Seven other Hungarian wineries won Bronze Medals."

Jeff Jenssen of Wine Enthusiast gets more technical: "Furmint ranges in color from pale straw to light amber, with aromas of pineapple, lemon blossom, orange rind, ripe pear, white peach, yellow peach and apricot….Ripe, unbotrytized grapes are used to produce the dry version, though if botrytized grapes find their way into the fermentation tanks, that adds another level of interest and complexity, with scents of honeycomb and jasmine."

Indeed, the wine is addictively flavorful, loaded with unique fruity and floral notes, but without the heavy mineral quality of the more famous Hungarian whites from the volcanic region north of Lake Balaton.

The road to being an internationally recognized star among wines may only be hampered by the fact that Tokaj is simply not a huge region, and production hasn't grown enough to support mass-quantity exports. Most of its 10,000 acres go to growing grapes of the sweet Aszú wines. Still, limited production is also a good thing: it means that small vineyards still dominate the game, and that a good portion of the wine will remain at home, in Hungary.

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.

 

 

 

Local Soptlight: Filmmaker Viktória Szemerédy

zita kisgergely


The following is a reprint from an interview Hungarian filmmaker Viktória Szemerédy did with The New Current, regarding her short film “Butterfly Daughter”, which had its premier at the 26th Raindance Film Festival.

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Upon leaving a state care institute, a twelve-year-old girl joins her elder sister and their grandmother in a remote village. She is desperate to reconnect with her negligent mother, but when she thinks she has found her on social media she finds herself running into a predator’s trap.


Hey Viktória, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going? Are there any nerves ahead of the screening?

Not really. The screening itself is going to be the icing on the cake we were baking with great care for a lot of time, so I am quite ready to enjoy it at Raindance. I am so excited, though, to meet fellow filmmakers, industry professionals there; changing opinions, ideas, starting dialogues and raising questions with them. 

What does it mean to be screening Butterfly Daughter at Raindance 2018?

First of all, I still have to pinch myself to believe Butterfly Daughter is going to be screened at Raindance. 

It is a great honour to me and also an opportunity to express my gratitude towards my closest mentors, Ruth Paxton and Stephan Mallman, and the incredible industry professionals I was blessed to work with, Tamás Hutlassa, Péter Szatmári, and Réka Lemhényi among many others. 

Tell me a little bit about Butterfly Daughter, how did the film come about? What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?

I saw a documentary play in Budapest two years ago in which a 12-year-old girl told her own story. She was living in a remote village in Hungary, and of course was completely bored there. She went on social media and a man linked up with her, eventually tricking her into meeting him. A relative met the little girl in the middle of the night by accident, when she was about to leave the village and called the police immediately. It turned out that the man was a child trafficker. And the bait? He promised her hot chocolate in bed every morning. 

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The girl’s story hit me hard, and I felt I had to keep it alive by writing a fiction screenplay around the promise of this simple act of care. I realised that more children are in danger than we even dare to imagine. Therefore I wanted to raise attention to the potential threats of social media for children. 

What was the most challenging scene for you to film?

I had a hard time before filming the encounter between Izabella Rea, the wonderful 12-year-old girl who played Bori and György Sipos, a warm-hearted, talented and very sensitive young actor in the role of the Man. 

I knew I had to be careful since this was a delicate situation for both of them. We were playing, improvising around the scene during the rehearsal period, still, I never asked them to rehearse that specific scene. I wanted to use the surprise of experiencing the encounter for the first time. Holding that space for them to feel safe, comfortable and relaxed was crucial. 

Other than that, my most painful experience was filming the computer screen. I promised myself that all my future films will take place in the middle ages with no technology whatsoever.

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

I have, though my passion was not supported by my family when I was a teenager. I had to take a long detour. I started my carrier as a medical doctor and was working as a psychologist for many years. Now I feel blessed to live my passion every day. 

"I would ask my fellow filmmakers to consider the impact they can create..."

How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut short?

Both of my short films deal with delicate issues. Butterfly Daughter is about an emotionally neglected child and the desperate deeds she is ready to take to get back to her mother. Pintu is about domestic sexual abuse. Given my past, I am quite sure that I will raise similar issues for discussion in my films. 

Still, I feel that only now I am ready to make films that are more visceral, that are braver in their visuals. I would like to eventually target the subconscious and do not spoil the audience with intellectual details and explanations. 

How would you describe Butterfly Daughter in three words?

Braking transgenerational traumas.

Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmaker?

Well, I wouldn’t call it advise, but maybe food for thought. The film is an extremely powerful tool. I would ask my fellow filmmakers to consider the impact they can create, the message they can send or the inspiration they can provide, before starting to make a film. 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?

I hope adults realise that letting minors hang out in the shady world of social media is a bad idea. Spending time with kids or teenagers, talking, playing, doing sports or walks or even going to the cinema with them could actually save them from the obvious dangers they face alone in front of the screen. They need our attention so much, and if they don’t get that from family members, friends, they will search for it at the wrong places.

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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.

Kia’s First Campaign Since UEFA Partnership Announcement Empowers Football Fans

zita kisgergely

Love + Money, Reelbase / Itchy & Scratch Pictures, and Flatpack Films create rousing advert shot in Budapest

Kia Motors has teamed up with agency Love + Money, production company Reelbase / Itchy & Scratch Pictures, and production service company Flatpack Films to launch an epic campaign to celebrate its new position as official partner of UEFA Europa League. The agreement will see the car brand sponsor UEFA for the next three years.

The high-octane campaign is a tribute to the legions of football fans across Europe. It shines a spotlight on their unwavering commitment, regardless of which team they support. The anticipation-filled opening captures their ritualistic preparations as fans, young and old, gear up for the big game by donning their team colours. The roar of the crowd is contrasted with the hushed silence on the pitch, and the pumping soundtrack escalates as we see city squares and streets packed to the brim with supporters. The film ends with Kia announcing its mission to empower the fans as the new official partner of UEFA.

The one-minute film was shot entirely in Budapest, featuring locations such as Liberty Square and Heroes’ Square, aside from additional pre-shot footage. It relied on the expertise of Budapest-based Flatpack Films for its specialised knowledge of the city. With this latest project, Flatpack Films reprises its partnership with production company Reelbase / Itchy & Scratch Pictures, with whom it has completed previous spots for Kia, as well as for Samsonite and Canon.

Zita Kisgergely, Owner and Executive Producer at Flatpack, comments: “We delivered on complex production demands to bring this ambitious project to life. Working in a full-service capacity, we utilising our insider understanding of the local area to scout locations, secure permits, and coordinate casting and equipment rental. Working closely with Director, HanGi, and DoP, HanVit, we secured streets, residential buildings, and large open squares that were not only aesthetically in line with the creative but also logistically viable. The last-minute addition of a football stadium to the brief required us to be reactive, but we rose to the challenge and were able to find a solution. As always, it was a pleasure working with Executive Producer, Kris, and his team at Reelbase / Itchy & Scratch Pictures. We’re proud to have been a part of this incredibly project.”

The 60-second film is now live on Kia’s social channels and is supported by 30-second cut downs.

Below: a selection of behind the scenes stills from Flatpack Films

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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.

Hungarian Film Spotlight: Sunset Shines with Critics

zita kisgergely

László Nemes’s Son of Saul didn’t take the world by storm a few years back, but rather it was a wind that picked up speed, a force that never relented until its presence was felt by serious film lovers everywhere. Now the award winning director is back with his follow-up effort, Sunset (Napszállta in Hungarian), which is already tipped as Hungary’s Oscar entry in the Best Foreign Film category. The film is also making the rounds at prestigious festivals, including The Venice Film Festival, where it had its premier, and has been released locally to laudatory reviews.  

The film tells the story of a pre-World War One milliner named Irisz Leiter, who returns to her hometown of Budapest in hopes of getting hired at the hat shop that bears her name. Though turned away, she is propelled on a quest to search for her long lost brother, a dangerous man who disappeared under suspicious circumstances. The film, which takes place in 1913, was primarily shot in Budapest, and makes use of the city’s haunting but elegent pre-war architecture, a setting that, while old, never gets old on the screen.

 via The Venice Film Festival

via The Venice Film Festival

While Sunset may be a period piece, the director says that he is eager to have the story be relevant to modern times. “History is not on another planet, history is now, so I didn’t want to make a conventional historical movie on a postcard level,” he related to a reporter at the Venice Film Festival. He went on to praise the Juli Jakob, the who plays the lead, and who also had a small but crucial role in Son of Saul. It is clear that the film has a strong narrative drive, and shows off a good deal of visual texture. Mátyás Erdély’s cinematography is lauded in may reviews, which is no surprise, given his work on Son of Saul. Daily Variety writes: “Mátyás Erdély’s 35mm camera impresses with bravura agility, wandering through the impressive sets with Kubrickian urgency…”

Elsewhere, the Hollywood Reporter says “Sunset is an impressive piece of filmmaking, and from a technical point of view it stirs memories of the boldly shot Hungarian cinema revival of the 1960s…” while the Guardian says “Nemes shoots the city in bleached-out colours, a kind of sepia style, and Budapest is brought to life as if in one of the picture postcards of the era....An entirely absorbing film.”

While the reviews have not been as uniformly ecstatic as they were for Son of Saul, it is hard to compete with a film that was so immediately iconic and important. This is a film with a broader canvas, but no less urgent a story. We wish it luck as it continues to accumulate praise and is seen by audiences worldwide.

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.




Nordic Success: The Life of Producer Katinka Faragó

zita kisgergely

 via ingmarbergman.se

via ingmarbergman.se

Hungarian film-makers have long had success outside of their home country. Hungarians fled the region during and after the First and Second World Wars, many for the States, where over time they made their indelible mark on Hollywood. But there were others whose path took a different direction, and shaped film in other parts of the world.

Katerina 'Katinka' Faragó may be a Swedish film producer, but her name reveals her origins. Born in Vienna to Hungarian refugees, due to the spreading Second World War, she and her family ventured further abroad, north to Sweden. At 17 she started down her path in film, where she would spend a 60-plus year career, primarily in the production company of icon Ingmar Bergman, working with him on such classics as Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, and Winter Light.

Beginning as a script supervisor, Faragó eventually earned the title of 'Bergman's right hand'. Heeding the advice given by a colleague, 'if he stares at you, stare back. If he spits on you, spit back,' Faragó was able to make herself invaluable to the tempestuous director, going on to work with him for the next 30 years, eventually earning the title of production manager at Bergman's company Cinematograph. In an interview, Faragó describes her experiences with Bergman: "He had a shocking reputation as a director, erupting in full-blown tantrums and proving himself extremely difficult to work with. Thankfully he calmed down over the years. This naturally was an issue of trust, and he knew that I never bluffed him. Ingmar is fond of women. He understands them better than men and recognises their potential. This fact is apparent in his films."

Elsewhere in the press, Faragó expressed that The Magic Flute and Fanny and Alexander were highlights of her career with Bergman. In The Magic Flute she had the complex job of working with opera singers, not to mention editing Mozart's music. The long process of making Fanny and Alexander would solidify Bergman and Faragó’s working relationship with pre-production alone lasting over a year. The film would become not just a popular art-house hit, but would win four Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film.

Faragó’s next notable film project was when she worked as the production manager on Andrei Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice, filmed on the Swedish island of Gotland. Later that year she was appointed head of production at the Swedish Film Institute, a position she held until 1990. The post-Bergman 1990s years saw her working with renowned Swedish directors like Kjell-Åke Andersson and Daniel Alfredson.

More recently, Faragó was a jury member of the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival. In 2017 she received a Liftetime Achivement Award at Sweden's Guldbagge Awards. While we have no evidence she has kept much connection to Hungarian film outside of the interviews she has given, we still keep tabs on her, and wish her continued success in all her endeavors.

 via ingmarbergman.se

via ingmarbergman.se

Text source: ingmarbergman.se

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.

 

 

 

 

City Park: Past and Future Inspirations of the Városliget

zita kisgergely

 Széchenyi Baths photo by Andreas Poeschek via Wikipedia

Széchenyi Baths photo by Andreas Poeschek via Wikipedia

According to the book The Truth About Tesla: The Myth of the Lone Genius in the History of Innovation, Nikola Tesla was on a walk with a Hungarian friend when he had his 'eureka' moment and came up with the idea for the brushless polyphase AC generator. It is not surprising that his companion was Hungarian, as the two were strolling in Budapest’s Városliget, or City Park. The park has meant a lot to residents and visitors alike, and is home to Gundel, Budapest’s most illustrious historical restaurant, as well as the Széchenyi Baths, the city’s (if not Europe's) most famous thermal bath complex.

So, when the government put plans in place to renovate the park, there was some push back. A number of locals who used the park wanted it kept as it was, worried that the construction of new museums would change the character of the public space, which is a World Heritage Site. But resistance has dwindled as results have begun to surface. Moreover, now that construction is complete on some of the new features, the worry that it will merely exist to serve tourists is being appeased. For example, a 200 meter running track, complete with a long jump and two new basketball/football courts were recently opened for free public use. Until this summer, there was no designated running path in the park, like there is on Margit Sziget, the city’s other great park.

While construction on many of the museums planned for the space has only begun, we have been treated to some advance renderings of the soon-to-be erected Hungarian Music House. Designed by renown Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, the space will feature exhibitions of the history of Hungarian music, a multimedia music library, an indoor concert hall, as well as an outdoor stage, all housed in a modern, sleek building. When you watch the video, it is hard not to agree that this will be an improvement on the existing abandoned ruin.

Joining the music house will be the Museum of Ethnography and the National Gallery, both of which will be housed in newly constructed avant garde buildings. The renovation is turning out to be an internationally minded endeavour with Hungary at its heart. Only time will tell if it will inspire future Teslas into world-changing inventions. That’s a lot to ask. In the meantime, art, music, and some fitness will have to do.

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.


 

Knack Cordial: The Hong Kong Hungarian Dance Connection

zita kisgergely

We are used to seeing Asian imports in Hungary, be they automobiles or hip new restaurants. Less frequently do we see Hungarian culture exported to the Far East. And it’s downright unique that we get to report on a group of Asians who are taken with Hungarian folk dance. But when the occasion to do so occurs, we jump on it, because nothing is more fun than seeing some cross cultural appreciation (not appropriation, mind you) expressed at the highest level.

 via the Knack Cordial Facebook page

via the Knack Cordial Facebook page

This is the story of the Hong Kong Hungarian folk dance group Knack Cordial. Founded by Hong Kong native Kenneth Tse, the group recently created a small media sensation when they performed in Budapest. Founded in 1998 after Mr. Tse returned from studying the folk dance of Transylvania and Hungary, the group has been awarded numerous prizes in their home territory, and visited Europe three times. Moreover, they are giving workshops to dancers from Taiwan as well as in the UK, spreading their love for Hungarian dance far and wide.

In his interview with Daily Hungary, Tse explains his passion: “I really liked the sound of the violin. The rhythm of the Hungarian dance – especially in the Transylvanian area – is very strong and is, for dancing purposes, quite easy to follow. Yet sometimes the music gets faster and really tests your ability to get the rhythm right. I was so attracted to it that they told me if I really wanted to learn Hungarian dance then I better go to Hungary – and especially to Transylvania and Romania which were part of Hungary before the war. So I decided to go to both Hungary and Transylvania. After returning to Hong Kong in 1998, I set up my own group and continued visiting Hungary every year for 10 years.”

 via the Knack Cordial FB page

via the Knack Cordial FB page

With firsthand experience from his travels, Tse has proven himself to be a cultural explorer in the vein of Bartok, a composer he is no doubt well familiar with. As an ambassador for Hungarian dance, he excels in the role, and has been teaching it for over 20 years. While his pronunciation of Hungarian is quite good -- at least according to him -- he claims to not actually speak any of the language. Oddly (or not) they are not the only Asian Hungarian dance group. The breezily named Pálinka Hungarian Dance Group hails from Japan.

 via the Knack Cordial FB page

via the Knack Cordial FB page

It is true that táncház, or informal folk dance nights at pubs and cultural centers, which once were the hi-light of the week for young and old, are disappearing. But in this globalized world, it is good to know that while we can enjoy dim sum in Hungary, residents of Hong Kong and other Asian countries can indulge in Hungarian dance, and maybe a pálinka or two, if it can be found.

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 Wild Work of Filmefex, Budapest's Premier SFX Company

zita kisgergely

That Budapest has become the center for film production on mainland Europe is not new news. Major publications and periodicals have covered this angle, from Daily Variety to the Guardian. Less discussed are the creative aspects of a production that are also expertly handled locally, things like animation studios and special effects studios. This is too bad, because there is a wealth of talent that has contributed to so many major productions that, while not totally unrecognized, is perhaps under-reported.

One such studio is the special effects facility Filmefex, which has quietly made some of the most astounding effects for films such as The Nutcracker, Blade Runner 2, Hellboy 2, Season of the Witch, Emerald City, and the Last Samurai. The company, led by Ivan Poharnak, SFX makeup artist and a protege of film effects legend Dick Smith, specializes in prosthetics, human and animal dummies, puppets, and models. Most recently, they helped with much of the gore for the horror series The Terror, based on the popular book by author Dan Simmons. The AMC 10-episode series ran last spring and summer to strong public appeal and critical acclaim. While some of the nautical portions of the production were shot in Croatia, the ship's interiors were constructed in Budapest, where much of the series was made. Poharnok, like so many other Hungarian talents, is a graduate of the Hungarian College of Fine Arts, where he studied sculpture. Later, in Hollywood, he worked at Dick Smith's studio.

“When American productions come to Hungary, there’s a kind of distance at first,” Poharnok told Daily Variety. “We have to prove ourselves on each film. The way it happens usually is that we get a smaller stake of the work and then when they feel we can handle it, they start giving us more.”

For some time, SFX were done digitally, until the limitations of that work were discovered, and artists began to return to modeled effects, which have a warmer, more life-like feel. Have a look at some shots of the models used for The Terror. But be warned, they do look just like the real thing, and some of the images may be disturbing.

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 For Emerald City via Filmefex

For Emerald City via Filmefex

 For Emerald City via Filmefex

For Emerald City via Filmefex

The below video gives you a look at Poharnok's crew at work on Mr. Pump, from the film Going Postal, adapted from the beloved Sir Terry Prachett novel.

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.

 

Hungary: Keeping Cool, Loving Life

zita kisgergely

There is no better way to beat the summer heat than to get out of the concrete and brick corridors of Budapest and out into the country.

The Hungarian countryside claims a wide range of rural landscapes. For instance, only 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Budapest rests Balaton, the biggest freshwater lake in Europe. The entire Balaton region offers a charming shooting location with 215 (130 miles) of long coastal roads with an abundance of orchards, vineyards, and wooded areas that manifest a perfect Provence-like atmosphere.

As an example of the unique, highly filmable locations you can find, we would like to direct your attention to the viaduct of Balaton. As you can see, this expansive waterway stands around 88 meters (fifty yards) high and is 23 feet wide. It is supported by 16 pillars, ranging from 18 to 80 meters high. The site is conveniently located by a highway connected to Budapest, on the way to the smaller Lake Zamárdi.

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Regionally, Badacsony is known as one of the most beautiful in Hungary. It is most famous for its white wines, which are considered national treasures. The wine culture of Badacsony has been around since 1375, when Cisterian monks planted the first grapes. The area is ideal for wine production due to the soil, which draws minerals from the lava of several inactive volcanoes in and around the area. This makes for a mineral and complex white wine, which is much loved around the country. Can you not imagine yourself sipping a crisp white wine while taking in the panorama below?

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Some of our favorite whites come from the Pannonhalma Apatsagi, or the Pannonhalma Archabbey.  This Benedictine abbey, built in 962, is one of the oldest structures in Hungary.  The foot of the hill it rests on was believed to be the birthplace of Saint Marton of Tours. Importantly, this is the second largest abbey in the world, with spectacular features like a Baroque refractory, Gothic basilica,  cloisters, a 360,000 volume library, a botanical gardens, and of course the vineyard that produces grapes for the Pannonhalma brand of wine.

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The Archabby is at home in the gorgeous region of Badacsony, which invokes lush rural areas like Provance and Umbria. In this heat, don’t be surprised if a goodly portion of Budapest’s population have taken respite there, where the wine and water are cool.

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 Guises of Breathtaking Budapest

zita kisgergely

 Blade Runner 2

Blade Runner 2

There has been no shortage of articles, including in certain film production company blogs, that speculate as to why Budapest is so frequently used as a stand-in for other cities, from Baltimore to Moscow, from Berlin to Paris. Sometimes it plays two cities in the same film, like in Steven Spielberg's Munich, when it did double duty as Paris and Rome. But it takes the erudition and eye of a writer deeply versed in architecture to really put into exact language what about the city is so universal, yet at the same time particular. It was pleasing to come across – not in Variety or Conde Nast Traveler – but in the Financial Times, a loving ode to Budapest in the guise of the answer to the question: what makes Budapest its own city, yet every city? The author, Edwin Heathcote, a former resident who had occasional work in film, posits:

"The more is, I think, its obscurity. It’s the kind of city most people haven’t been to or, if they have, then only briefly or on a drunken stag-do or a business trip. It was built in an era when other cities were already established as exemplars. In the 1890s Budapest was second only to Chicago as the fastest-growing city in the world and its architects looked around to see what had worked elsewhere. They picked a little from Paris, something from Milan, a lot from Vienna, perhaps a few things from London (including a gothic parliament; Budapest made sure its version was a little bigger) and amalgamated them into a city of bits. This was topped by a layer of interwar modernism and a heavier layer of communist central planning with its socialist realism and bleak but durable late modernism. From this cocktail an extremely particular city arose but one in which memories of other cities are persistently present."

He goes on to discuss the elegiac essence of Budapest,  

"There is a sense in which Budapest is there to represent a sense of cityness. The bits of it that appear most frequently — the blocky rustication of its buildings’ bases, the shabby, shady courtyards encased in peeling plaster, the grand fin-de-siècle monuments and operatic staircases, the socialist-era layer of stripped modernity and social realist workers’ canteens and the broad avenues — together create a city which doesn’t need to be coherent as each element sparks an atmosphere in our minds anyway. Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel had nothing to do with the city (the hotel interiors were shot in a German department store) yet the name alone was enough to trigger an image of Mitteleuropa: delicate pastries, moustachioed concierges clicking their heels in greetings to grandes dames and faded Belle Époque grandeur applied with a layer of communist ennui.

"Budapest is both present and absent, super-specific and utterly generic. It is not a star but a character actor. Just occasionally it’s allowed to appear as itself. Near the beginning of Thomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the wonderful Párisi Udvar provides the backdrop for the botched operation that sets up the plot. Its orientalist Art Nouveau interior, part Turkish bazaar, part Parisian arcade, proves the perfect place for misadventure: louche, luxurious, faded, an architecture of shadows and memories, Walter Benjamin’s snippets of the remains of western modernity detected in the traces of the arcades."

In the end, films do with Budapest like the author does with Budapest: makes the city their own, while at the same time maintaining respect for its integrity, its 'cityness', as he so eloquently puts it. Why is Budapest a perfect body double? If you have theories of you own, leave them in the comments.

 From the Alienist

From the Alienist

Source: Financial Times

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.

 

American Actress Serenades all of Hungary, Wins Internet.

zita kisgergely

 Youtube still via Index.hu

Youtube still via Index.hu

It's been a huge week for Hungarian hip-hop. Social media feeds in Hungary were taken by storm when a clip was released of American actress/comedian Kate McKinnon doing a spectacular job of rapping a verse to a Hungarian song on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, the nation's most watched evening talk show. In her enthusiasm for the song "Yozsefváros," McKinnon even managed to get the studio audience to sing along. All of this must have come as a surprise to millions of American viewers, most of whom were being exposed to Hungarian for the first time.

McKinnon spent a good portion of last year in Budapest filming The Spy Who Dumped Me. As she explains in the clip, her driver took it upon himself to school her in Hungarian language and Hungarian rap. Over the years we've seen movie stars and touring musicians muster a few words of Hungarian for local crowds, and were of course widely applauded for the effort. But never before have we seen the degree of commitment and prowess as McKinnon's verse from local rappers Animal Cannibals. This is a duo who have been on the Hungarian hip-hop scene for a long time, and are no doubt enjoying basking in some international attention and glory.

Moreover, the track she sings from "Yozsefváros" also puts the spotlight on Budapest's most up-and-coming neighborhood. The 'Joseph Town' is Budapest's most diverse central district, and where artists and watering holes that have been pushed and priced out of the tourist saturated District Seven are relocating. Though these days, renovations and redevelopment are helping the District Eight, or 'Nyólckér,' as it is also known, shed its image as a bleak ghetto, back in the 90s, as McKinnon notes, it was a much rougher place.

Those with a finer ear for rapped Hungarian than this writer compliment McKinnon on her pronunciation and accuracy in replicating the complicated language. So, a shout out to the actress who may have just won the heart of a nation, and if not a nation, at least the 'hood. The Youtube clip of the bit has racked up a quarter of a million views in just a few days, and is number three in trending videos. How long before the whole world is singing along to "Yozsefváros"?

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.