New law to pump 13 M EUR into Hungarian film industry in 2012

By FNE Staff

    BUDAPEST: The Hungarian Parliament has approved a new Hungarian Film Law which will pump 4 bln HUF (cca. 13 m EUR) into the national film industry. Under the new law the recently established National Film Fund (MNF www.filmalap.hu ) will become the central body for the support of the Hungarian film industry.

    The MNF will be funded primarily from the national Six Lottery. Starting from 1 January 2012 the fund will receive 80% of the Six Lottery's gambling tax revenues which is estimated to amount to 4 bln HUF.

    The new law was approved by a vote of 249 for and 102 against. It abolishes all previous categories of automatic and structural support for Hungarian film. Under the previous film law, unanimously enacted in 2004, the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation, (www.mmka.hu) a self-governing body of the film industry, was the main funding organisation of film culture in Hungary.

    The MNF is owned by the state and its CEO is appointed by the government. The CEO appoints the five-member committee that awards grants. The MNF will concentrate on funding full-length feature films, documentaries and animation films. Agnes Havas, one of Hungary's best known film producers, is presently the acting head of MNF.

    The new law states that the MNF has to emphasize cultural and generational diversity. Some Hungarian film professionals had voiced concern that the centralization of the support would lead to the demise of Hungarian art house films which have been highly successful at international film festivals.

    The Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation previously awarded the most prestigious veteran filmmakers with the title "Master of the Hungarian Motion Picture." The new law establishes a new award called "Film Artist of the Nation" that will be given by the government. Awarded filmmakers get a life-long allowance. Ferenc Grunwalsky, the previous president of the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation was one of those awarded under the previous system. Grunwalsky's leadership of the now defunct organisation has been highly controversial.

    The MNF stated in a press release that their main duty will be the operation of the new system; controlling the productions and administering their support; the international representation of the Hungarian films; and the distribution of films that are part of the national film archives (mainly the films made before 1989) and of those films that are produced with the support of the MNF.

    Directors and producers have voiced concern about a provision that gives the MNF the right of the final cut for films it supports. Government appointed film commissioner, Andrew G. Vajna, responded in the press that they might change their support rules and only ask for this right if they support a project with more than 150 m HUF (500,000 EUR). MNF requirements for the films it supports have not yet been made public so filmmakers are still in the dark about what obligations MNF support will incur.