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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.

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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Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 10.30.08.png

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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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.

Back in Budapest, Schwarzenegger Makes the Most of Filming Terminator 6

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Arnold Schwarzenegger has a long history in Budapest, as an actor and unofficial ambassador. This is of course due to the fact that while he has thrived as an American for decades, his trademark accent gives away his Central European origins. The Austrian-born politician/actor has regional roots.

As such, much was made of his extended return to Budapest to shoot Terminator 6 at Origo Studios and around town as well as in the country-side village of Komárom, on the Slovakian border. Schwarzenegger himself has not been shy about promoting his stay in Hungary last summer. He was eager to pose with the businesses he frequented, including multiple gyms and restaurants, and locations around Budapest, resulting in one memorable shot of him wearing a Guns and Roses tee-shirt riding a bike down Andrássy Avenue (henceforth putting all cars who happen to stray into the bike lane on notice). He also is not shy about promoting the drinking a Radler (a beer and lemonade mixture, popular in Central Europe) as a way to ‘wake up’ after a long night of shooting. Arnold clearly is smitten with the city, and found lots to enjoy.

via Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Facebook page

via Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Facebook page

via Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Facebook page

via Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Facebook page

Also in Budapest, though keeping a lower profile was Linda Hamilton, reprising her iconic Terminator role as Sarah Connor, along with Mackenzie Davis, who participated in the Blade Runner 2049 shoot here a few years ago. Sources report that the T6 installment will continue from where Terminator 2 left off, performing another time-traveling feat by ignoring the three proceeding Terminator films.

But none of this would mean anything if the shoot for T6 didn’t go smoothly. So again, the actor was ready to lend his voice to promote film production in Budapest and Hungary. As you can see from the video below, he, along with the film’s director (Tim Miller, of Dead Pool fame) and the late Andy Vajna (Hungarian Film Commission head and producer of earlier Terminator installments) praise the local crews and studio (Origo). In the short video, the 71-year-old Schwarzenegger calls Budapest, “one of the nicest cities in the world.” No doubt Hungarian-American Vajna, whose connections to both Terminator and Budapest are deep, can be credited with bringing the huge production — with a budget reported to be 300,000,000 dollars — to Hungary. Vajna’s contribution to developing film production in Hungary cannot be over-stated, and his leadership will be missed.

Here is wishing Schwarzenegger and everybody involved a huge success with the latest installment of the Terminator franchise, and sincere hopes of him returning to the city that agrees with him so much.

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 Among the Best, (According to Lots of Lists)

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With the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, inevitably 'best of' lists get published. In the travel industry, the Condé Nast Traveler's list of cities to travel to is big news, due to the wide readership and prestige of the brand. This year Budapest, not surprisingly, made it into the top twenty in the Readers' Choice section of the Best Cities of the World list. Moreover, in the same week, it was featured in CNN Travel, touting its surprising appeal as a winter destination. Let's look at what these respected publications are saying about our city.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

We are not sure what qualifies as a 'big' city in the list, but with over two million inhabitants, Budapest is not a mega-city, but a livable, manageable big city none-the-less. Rated the 14th top ‘big city’ in the world (beating out favorites like Amsterdam and Rome) Condé Nast had this to say: "With some of the best Art Nouveau architecture in Europe, scenic Budapest has no bad angles. It's also Europe's unlikely capital of hedonism, where the pursuit of pleasure hits a new high. Explore the Hungarian capital’s spa culture at thermal baths built in the 16th and 17th century; have your coffee and pastry with a side of ostentation at the gilded Gerbeaud or New York cafes; and walk the Széchenyi Chain Bridge at night over the Danube River for magnificent views and a reminder of the good life."

That's a pretty shining endorsement for a city much of the world still identifies with the former Soviet bloc. But they are correct that there is a strong vein of hedonism that runs through Budapest, without even mentioning the famous ruin pub scene, wine bars, music festivals, foie gras dinners, and Danube cruises.

by  Andrés Nieto Porras  via Wikipedia Commons

by Andrés Nieto Porras via Wikipedia Commons

Budapest comes alive in the spring and summer, but CNN travel writer Nathan Kay pushes Budapest as an unlikely winter destination, saying this in a long, recently published article: "Offering a cozy winter atmosphere with romantic architectural creations, Budapest delivers a scene reminiscent of a classic Christmas movie. Rich in culture and steeped in tradition, winter here not only feels like a fairytale, it looks like one, too."

As evidence he offers the charming Christmas market, the classical interior of the Opera House, and of course the undeniable pleasure of taking a soak in one of the city's many thermal bath houses. You haven't lived until you've been snowed on in a hot outdoor thermal bath.

Surprisingly neither article cited Hungarian cuisine, which with its chimney cakes and mulled wine, also thrives in the winter. So we will just add that here, as well as advising visitors to walk the city to try spotting the many locations used for international film production in Budapest and Hungary. With renovations being done on public spaces including parks, things are only looking up for this ‘big city’ to shoot up higher on that list for next year.

photo by Marko Laci via wikipedia.hu

photo by Marko Laci via wikipedia.hu

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.

 


Been There, Dune That: The Remake of Dune Comes to Budapest

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That the sequel to Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2019, would be a hit was almost a foregone conclusion. And it was well publicized that much of the film was shot in studios and locations in and around Budapest. The city perfectly fit the grungy noir feel to the script, lending its own character to the narrative. So it is gratifying to see Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve returning to shoot the latest attempt at a film version of the sci-fi classic book Dune.

This is interesting for a few reasons. Foremost, the first film of Dune is known as one of the bigger flops in film history. Even hardcore fans of David Lynch, who made Dune, try to distance themselves from the director’s only misfire (in truth, this will be Dune’s second remake, the first being an Emmy-winning TV drama). Second, Budapest has a reputation for war, crime, horror, and period pieces, but only recently has it been utilized as a location for science fiction films (though Ridley Scott had a huge success with The Martian, much of which was shot in the country). Contributing to this development are certainly the state-of-the-art sound studios like Origo Film Studios and Korda Studios coupled with expert technical crews that make film production in Hungary so affordable and dependable.

The upcoming shoot of Dune will bring stars like Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgard, and Charlotte Rampling to Budapest. Hnentertainment.com reports that Hungarian Csaba Tóth has been hired as special effects coordinator, having worked on such productions as locally shot Robin Hood as well as the most recent Terminator film. Geeksworldwide.com suggests that production was pushed back from February to March due to the rush to make use of of the Hungarian Film Fund’s 30 percent tax rebate, recently upped from 25 percent. The site reports that local production facilities are running at full capacity.

Dune is one of the all-time most cherished science fiction series. Written by Frank Herbert, much of the action takes place in a dystopian desert world tormented by giant sandworms. While Hungary is famous for its expansive steppe (otherwise known as the Puszta) it is short on deserts. As such, filming will also take place in Jordan, which recent Star Wars films have also utilized for their photogenic desert landscapes.

Return customers like Villeneuve bode well for the future of science fiction film production Budapest and Hungary. Being affordable is a given, but being dependable is even more important. As Dune is a multi-book series, here’s hoping there will be many more films to come.

frank-herbert-50th-anniversary-dune-cover.jpg

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: Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond

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MV5BMGMyZjMzNzYtN2RiNi00NzExLWE3NTEtYzY4MDExNGJkYWMxXkEy_003.jpg

Film has lots of unsung heroes. Most of the laurels and almost all the publicity go to promoting stars and star directors. But behind every film there are crew and highly creative people using the height of their genius to make the brand names look good. This is perhaps most true for the cinematographer. There is a reason why great directors will work with the same cinematographer again and again, and that's because they can be credited with so much of the technique and artistry behind the look and mood of a film. And in recent history, there has been no greater credit to the craft than Hungarian born Vilmos Zsigmond, whose life was explored in the 2016 documentary Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond.

 Born in Hungary in 1930, Zsigmond moved to the United States in 1958. As a political refugee, he didn't show up in American empty handed, but with excerpts cut from 35,000 feet of film shot of the 1956 Revolution, which he and fellow cinematographer László Kovács shot surreptitiously in Budapest. He and Kovács, sold the footage to news legend Walter Cronkite, and were able to relocate to Los Angeles. There, Zsigmond got his start working on educational and independent films (occasionally using the more American-friendly name Billy Zigi) while he tried to get a break with the studios. Kovács experienced Hollywood success first, working on Peter Fonda's iconic film Easy Rider, and was able to recommend Zsigmond to Fonda for The Hired Hand, which eventually led to him working with Robert Altman on the classic McCabe & Mrs. Miller. From that point on, Zsigmond became a talent very high in demand.

 Zsigmond soon became identified with the American New Wave. His filmography as a cinematographer is unrivaled, having worked with the biggest names in the business, including Spielberg, De Palma, and Woody Allen, on films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter, Deliverance, and The Witches of Eastwick, winning an Emmy, a BAFTA award, a National Film Critics award, and of course an Academy Award for Close Encounters.

Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond, the documentary made by by French director Pierre Filmon (trailor above) had its premier at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, not long after Zsigmond's death earlier in that year. On Zsigmond's genius, Daily Variety has this to say in its review of the documentary: "it’s amazing, when you look at it now, to see how much of that film’s poetic sci-fi techno splendor came directly from Zsigmond: the oversaturated heat of those orange alien headlights — and, more than that, the whole soft-edged glow of the mothership. Sure, it was a special-effects coup, but when you look at how the images were shot, they’re a direct cousin to the misty melting landscapes of 'McCabe.' It was Zsigmond who made the awesomeness of alien spacecraft romantic."

Maybe some behind the scenes heroes get their share of glory after all.

Photo credit: Peter Novak via Wikipedia Commons

Photo credit: Peter Novak 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Eat Your Lentils, and Have a Happy, Lucky New Year!

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lentilsny.jpg

If there is one abiding New Year’s tradition in Hungary, other than popping some sparkly and singing the national anthem, it’s eating lentils on New Year’s day. But in a cuisine where lentils do not contribute significantly other than in főzelék (pottage) or certain soups, why are lentil so important on the first day of the year? We refuse to let this question go unanswered, and are here with an explanation as to this curious local tradition of eating lentils on the new year.

Lentils, in case you didn’t know, represent luck. But not just any good luck, eating lentils means you will experience good luck moneywise, possibly due to the fact that the lentils are coin shaped. It is also known that a hearty bowl of lentils and sausage and liberal use of spicy paprika is a potent hangover cure, something everybody can benefit from on New Year’s day. While this may seem like an uninspiring dish to start the year off with, local recipes typically call for smoked pork or sausage to give the meal substance.

Though this tradition is particularly Hungarian, other cultures find significance in the humble lentil as well. For instance in Judaism, the round lentil represents the circle of life, and is eaten by certain Jewish communities as a consolation meal for mourners, something that is not so different from saying goodbye to one year and welcoming in the next. Similar to Hungarians, Italians also eat lentils on New Year’s, the lentil also representing hoped-for wealth.

But how will such luck manifest itself in the film production industry? The Hungarian National Film Fund isn’t leaving it to chance, and has already helped this along, by extending the tax rebates on films shot in Hungary from 25 to a whopping 30 percent. Moreover, Hungary remains a very budget friendly location to film in, making it the most popular destination for international film-makers on continental Europe, and only second to Great Britain in the whole of Europe.

What other lucky occurrences can we expect in Hungary this year? Of course the film industry will grow even more, as word of the country’s dynamic and affordable locations continues to circulate. Budapest will continue its rise as a world class destination for not just backpackers, but high end travellers as well. And Hungary itself will see itself prosper ever more in the center of Europe, while remaining its own very particular place.

So it’s never too late, when we are talking about luck. Have some lentils, and plan for good things accordingly. Also, this is us wishing everybody a happy, healthy 2019!

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.

The Sweet Season: Hungarian Holiday Treatsp

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One of the great advantages of being in Hungary long-term, be it to live or because you are filming in Hungary, is that you get to become acquainted with local traditions and culture. And around the winter holidays this is particularly gratifying, because that means holiday food. Lots and lots of holiday food. This is especially fortuitous in Hungary, which in addition to having the most dynamic cuisine in Central Europe, is also known for its scrumptious holiday treats. In Hungary, holiday food is social currency. You give it to friends, colleagues, and of course family.

via the Pataki Beigli FB page

via the Pataki Beigli FB page

But -- you may ask -- what makes Hungarian holiday food so special? Well we are here with a rundown on Christmas food from Hungary, and you can decide for yourself if it isn’t something really worth celebrating. So let’s have a look at a few of the delicious foods people who live in Hungary will be gorging on over this holiday season.

First up is beigli (sometimes spelled bejgli). There can never be enough beigli around the holidays. This loglike confection is actually a pastry that is rolled around a sweet filling, which in hungary is traditionally poppy seed or apple walnut, or just walnut, though in a quest to keep it current, various jams, nutella, and other off-the-cuff fillings can be found. Its distinctive egg glazing makes it attractive under the holiday lights. Though small in size, beigli is in fact quite heavy. The pastry is wonderful when eaten with both dry and sweet white wines, of which there are no shortage in Hungary.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

Mézeskalács, or in loose translation, Hungarian gingerbread, is also omnipresent, particularly in households and schools. Basically it’s a softer, airier, less aggressively spiced gingerbread that is shaped into cookie form and decorated with frosting. Of all the Hungarian holiday foods, this one benefits most from being home-made, as the store bought variety tends to dry out and not be as lovingly decorated.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

Finally, no Christmas is complete without szaloncukor - or ‘parlor candies’ - which are colorfully wrapped candies that double as Christmas tree ornaments. Fondant is the primary component of the sweet, which is then dipped in chocolate before being wrapped, usually in bright foil, to reflect the light of fire or Christmas lights. According to Wikipedia, almost a kilo and a half of szaloncukor are eaten per family each year around the holidays.

Luckily, a plucky American vlogger went and put together a video of her favorite Hungarian Christmas foods, which you can watch below. Like with most such videos, her enthusiasm makes up for her ppronunciation. It’s good to be generous around the holidays when it comes to this and so much more.  

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.

Remembering the Life of Hungarian Director Ferenc Kósa

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Kosaten-thousand-days-tzezer-nap.19899.jpg

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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x-TheeXploited_1200x600.jpg

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.