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Crisis: Hungarian Government Cuts Funding to Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation. HFW Postponed

2010-12-08

The Hungarian parliament has decided to dramatically cut funding for the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation (MMK www.mmka.hu) in its 2011 budget. The move has also put the future of the Hungarian Film Week traditionally held in February in doubt. The MMK board has decided to postpone the event until the end of April when it hopes to be able to secure funding for the event.

The Hungarian parliament which passed its 2011 budget last night has turned down proposals from the MMK for its funding. The parliament granted the organisation just 1 billion forints for 2011. This according to Hungarian filmmakers will be only enough money to fund the repayment of its bank loans. A notice on the MMK website says it will not be funding film magazines, documentaries or animated films. The organisation has a five year contract with the government for 28 billion forints which runs until 2013 to provide support for cinema exhibitors, distribution, film promotion, education and film production. But with the government drastically reducing its funding MMK its support for most of these activities will need to be cut.

Instead of backing MMK the Hungarian government has allotted two billion forints to the Ministry of National Economy to support the film industry and 800 million forints to the Ministry of National Resources although there is no information about how this money will be spent. According to Hungarian press reports the Hungarian government wants film funding to be in the hands of a political appointee. The president of the MMK is elected by the filmmakers and is ostensibly politically independent. The MMK was established under the film law and is made up of 26 Hungarian film organisations.

The cultural committee of the Hungarian parliament had proposed an increase of the MMK budget from 1 billion to 4.5 billion forints but this was turned down.

The MMK has been fighting for its survival for months. The organisation inherited a heavy burden of debts and over 5 billion forints in bank loans when its new president Zoltan Korosi took over this year and it has been involved in allegations in the press of corruption and mismanagement in previous years. The MMK held tenders for the support of art house cinemas and distribution in 2010 which it looks like it now will be unable to fulfill. The MMK has been unable to sign any contracts since 1 September of this year and tenders for the support of film production have been suspended.

The Hungarian Film Week which has been held in Budapest for 42 years is also in jeopardy. There are proposals to postpone it until April and fund it from other government sources but it is unclear whether or not this will be possible.

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