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Filming in Hungary: Blog

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Crime Novel Budapest Noir Comes To The Screen

zita kisgergely

budapest-noir.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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