Hungarian Film Law modification

By Gyorgy Karpati

The Hungarian Parliament voted 212 to 1 (with 155 abstentions) to accept alterations in the Hungarian film law on June 9. The modification brings the Hungarian film law in line with European Union regulations.

The EU's previous validation of the Hungarian film law expired on December 31. The European Committee will not discuss or vote on the new version before July at the earliest, but with the Hungarian Parliament scheduled for holiday, the decision was moved up to a June vote.

The original 2004 law on film governs the Hungarian film support and tax discount system. While not opposed to the Hungarian system, the EU asked that the Hungarians make adjustments that clarified the law and brought it into line with EU regulations. The new modified version clearly outlines a point system for calculating the rate of the support for Hungarian and international productions.

The new system is more rigorous than the previous one. The main point was the cultural content of the production. Based on the cultural content and the production conditions a film can get up to 32 points; at least 16 points is needed to be considered for state support. A cultural content point can be earned for the story or for the characters, if they are Hungarian or European or otherwise connected to the culture. Other examples that earn cultural content points are adaptations of European/Hungarian literature, and depictions of the lifestyle of Hungarian/European cultures. Points are also earned for pre-production, filming, or post-production in Hungary. (The full table can be found under the 3rd section of the law.)

The maximum direct and indirect support is 50% of the full budget of the production, and 50% of the Hungarian budget in the case of co-productions. Exceptions are low-budget movies, which can receive up to 90% of the budget. In this case the maximum budget can be 237 million forint (€950.000), while in Hungarian co-productions budgets are limited to 467 million forint (€1,870,000). Previously the limit was 500 million forint (€2 million) in both cases. Hungarian language non-profit films that have no other means of funding may be supported with full 100% funding. In accord with international law at least the 20% of the national support should be attained by other EU countries. The new law will expire on December 31, 2010 (www.parlament.hu/irom38/05770/05770.pdf).