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Hungarian Pannonia animation studio faces uncertain future

2007-10-16

The state-owned Pannónia Film Kft., once the leading force in a booming Hungarian animation sector, is facing an uncertain future due to inaction on the part of its owner, the country's privatization agency.

Despite the appointment of Ferenc Csunderlik on Aug. 1 as Pannónia's new CEO, Allami Vagyonkezelo Rt. or APV (www.apvrt.hu) has declined to disclose details about its plans for the studio.

However, Katalin Macskassy, the daughter of the studio's co-founder, the late Gyula Macskassy, said the studio has been in the liquidation process for a couple of months. The studio's website (www.mediaguide.hu/pannoniafilm), which still offers "animation subcontract work" to foreign producers, makes no mention of liquidation.

After 50 years of production, Pannónia possesses a rich library which its sales organization, Interpannónia Ltd., used to handle internationally. The hefty catalogue includes 27 animated feature films, more than 10,000 minute series, 800 specials and 1,500 commercials.

A source at the Hungarian Motion Picture Fund confirmed the studio is in liquidation. A company unknown to the film industry, called Forras Kft., is understood to be the administrator.

Csunderlik is something of an outsider to the industry, and admitted in an exchange with FNE he has "no experience whatsoever in the film business."

There have been no reports on the recent developments in the domestic press, which only reported that the studio wound up production activities earlier this year and that in March 2007, Marcell Jankovics stepped down as CEO of Pannónia.

Jankovics was tight-lipped about his departure. "My mandate was over, as was my salary, as I'm retired now," the 66-year-old director, a winner of the Cannes Golden Lion, told a Hungarian portal, www.index.hu.

Macskasi said the company's assets have been catalogued but she has been unable to learn anything more despite writing to the Culture Ministry. "No reply came," she told FNE.

Despite FNE's inquiry on the value of the catalogue items and annual revenue in recent years, no information was provided by the relevant parties and none returned calls for comment.

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