FNE at Cannes: EFP Producer on the Move Tamas Liszka

By Cathy Meils

    Hungarian "Producer on the Move" Tamás Liszka is breaking new ground in the field of animation in Hungary, and earning high praise along the way.

    "He's a many-sided talent," says Eurimages' Tamas Joo. "The feature animation market is new territory in Hungary. He has a background in film culture plus the best network in the animation business."

    Liszka is putting all of that to good use with his ambitious upcoming animated feature film, Egill: The Last Pagan. The first Hungarian/Icelandic co-production, along with a Polish co-production partner, employs stereoscopic animation with new software designed especially for the film.

    Liszka's previous credentials suggest a production headed for success on several levels. He founded SzimplaFilm (www.cine.hu./szimplafilm) shortly after joining the entertainment company Szimpla in 2003, after a five year career teaching philosophy in Norway and Hungary, launching the Anilogue animation festival in Vienna and Budapest, Estonian Week, and most recently the Baltic Sea Festival. The company's production and distribution activities began in 2004, releasing arthouse films such as the Annecy winner District! by Aron Gauder, who also directs Egill.

    Moving into production, SzimplaFilm has completed two short animated films. Daily Tomorrow is a mixed-techinque film about a daily newspaper described as a "danse macabre." Reportrait is a biographical film with animated interviews and paintings in motion.

    "I'm really addicted to animation," Liszka told FNE. "There's a lot of potential in this genre, and I don't want to miss the chance to be involved."

    He credits Gauder with the Hungarian animation revival. "Animation has a great tradition in Hungary, but there was a gap when Hungarian TV stopped producing it. The break-through was when District! won several awards. It gave a lot of inspiration for people in the Hungarian animation business."

    Liszka is optimistic about prospects for Egill. The film has been picked up by Hungarian distributor Hungaricom, but is keeping international sales options open. The film targets the 16+ audience with a historical storyline set a millennium ago. Liszka calls it "quite Shakespearian and complex, with a lot of adventure and poetry. It's definitely not for children."

    At Cannes, however, Liszka will be shopping his new film in development, Strange Forest. The Sebian/Hungarian co-production with a story set on the eve of the Yugoslavian civil war is seeking one or more co-producers to fund the 350,000 euro budget. "If I meet someone with similar tastes, I will offer this film," he told FNE.

    He has high expectations for the Producers on the Move experience, especially after looking at the other members of this year's group. "We have lot of common things in our thinking," he said. "And I'm curious about their projects."

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