FNE spoke with Ferenc Grunwalsky, President of the Motion Picture Public Fund of Hungary (MMK), about the current state of the Hungarian film industry.
FNE: What was the most important development in your country's film industry over the past year?
Ferenc Grunwalsky: The most remarkable day is just coming now, this Thursday. In July 2007 at the Fót Stúdió the Huszárik room burned down, and 1000 m2 of sets were completely destroyed. We were able to reconstruct it, so it's modern, brand new. The Motion Picture Public foundation of Hungary (MMKA) managed to pay all of the construction costs from its own resources, without any external sources or suppport, which is a huge accomplishment in these financially difficult times.
FNE How important are European coproductions for the development of Hungary's film industry and what opportunities do you see for cooperation with neighbouring countries in film production, education and distribution?
F. G.: Coproductions are increasingly important. When the MMKA was first established, we had to fund 100% of the films' costs. Today we give only 33-40% of the total amount, the rest comes from coproductions and resources of the investors. The young generations' mentality has adjusted to the new situation; for them it's getting more and more natural to plan their films as coproductions, in cooperation with others. This process is also supported by the EU. Actually we have the same level of cooperation and coproduction from Eastern and Western Europe. I don't see big differences.
FNE: What is the role of film in Hungary's cultural identity?
F. G.: The Hungarian film industry is a stabile, reliable institution, acknowledged abroad, which is not natural at all in this country, if compared to the state of other arts institutions. Our films are presented at every major and important festival, and we introduce young filmmakers to the world every year, which is so much better than if we had just one big hit from time to time. This reliability counts for a lot.
FNE: How does the recognition of Hungary's film internationally promote not only your country's film but also Hungary as a country?
F. G.: Continuity is precious. We have a permanently high standard of filmmaking, and we always have new initiatives - the world has to pay attention. Hungarian film has important traditions and its own particular style, which comes from our history, our mentality, the high culture of Hungary.
FNE: Looking back over the past five years what are the major achievements and what do you consider still needs to be done?
F. G.: We have to continue our way. The direction is good: talented generations appear at festivals, the average level is high. Only one really big thing is missing. We have to increase cooperation and coproductions, we need more international stars, and fruitful connections. The film industry has to be able to be completely independent. I appreciate that the four year agreement we made two years ago, which fixed the state sources for the film industry until 2010, and it can't be changed. Other important negotiations were made with EU: finally the commission accepted the Hungarian motion picture law, and the finance and rebate system. We had to adjust the system to their requirements, but finally we reached an agreement in 2008, so it's also fixed until 2013.