BOX OFFICE: Lajos Koltai’s Semmelweis Is Most Watched Domestic Film in Hungarian Cinemas in Five Years

    Semmelweis by Lajos Koltai Semmelweis by Lajos Koltai credit: Attila Szvacsek, source: NFI HU

    BUDAPEST: The biopic Semmelweis, Lajos Koltai’s return to directing after over 15 years, has become the domestic film with best admissions in Hungarian cinemas in the past five years. Since its release on 30 November 2023, the film has attracted over 280,000 spectators.

    None of his previous films in cinemas achieved such an audience success, Koltai said to the Hungarian media.

    The film has already been bought by Netflix.

    Semmelweis follows a life-changing year from the life of doctor Ignác Semmelweis, played by Miklós H. Vecsei, also known as the „saviour of mothers”. The story is set in Vienna, in 1847, when a mysterious epidemic is raging at a maternity clinic, killing mothers. Hungarian doctor Ignác Semmelweis is trying to overcome the childbed fever by going against the traditional theories. He finds a companion in a young Austrian midwife, with whom he also develops a romantic relationship.

    The screenplay by Balázs Maruszki and Anett Kormos was preceded by a lot of research work.

    The film was produced by Tamás Lajos and József Vida through Szupermodern Studio. It was supported by the National Film Institute - Hungary with 5.63 m EUR / 2.26 billion HUF.

    Semmelweis had its world premiere in the USA and it was voted Best Film at the Los Angeles Hungarian Film Festival, where Miklós H. Vecsei also won the Best Actor award and Katica Nagy won Best Actress.

    Lajos Koltai had been nominated for an Academy Award as cinematographer in Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena in 2001. Semmelweis has been his first directing job since the US/German coproduction Evening (2007) starring Vanessa Redgrave, Claire Danes and Toni Collette.