Hungarian Maiden lines up financing, cast

By Laszlo Kriston

    Los Angeles-based filmmaker and actor Endre Hules (Seven, Apollo 13) is returning to his homeland, Hungary to make his 1.4 million euro (HUF 375 million) directorial debut, The Maiden Danced to Death.

    With about half of the budget coming from Hungary, "the Canadian co-production partner, Quiet Revolution has pledged 25% and Slovenia's Casablanca Films 20% participation," Hules told FNE. "In Hungary we have already received 190,000 euros in co-production support as well as support for Cinema-Film," from the Hungarian state film financing body, MMKA Fund (www.mmka.hu) as part of its credit point scheme that grants funding to upcoming projects of local production companies based on the earnings and festival awards of their recent movies.

    The production is in advanced talks with Canadian stars, Donald Sutherland and Carie-Ann Moss. Hungarian-born Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) has committed to the project.

    The Hungarian-Canadian-Slovenian co-production intends to start shooting in February 2009 in Canada. The film is based on the new stage show (funded by the Hungarian Ministry of Culture) of the Budapest/Honved Dance Company that was created to raise interest in the upcoming film. The movie has already received a script development grant from the Hungarian Cultural Foundation (MKA) and has also won support from the European Union's MediaPlus project development program. "We are currently negotiating with Hungarian Televisions (pending approval of their own funding), preparing an application to Eurimages and exploring presale possibilities," Hules said.

    Co-producers include Hungary's Gabor Garami of Cinema-film Kft. (www.cinemafilm.hu), Canada's Michael A. Dobbin of Quiet Revolution Pictures (www.qrpictures.com) and Slovenia's Igor Pedicek of Casablanca Productions. Quiet Revolution holds distribution rights for Canada, Budapest Film (www.budapestfilm.hu) for Hungary.

    Aiming for a general public, Maiden is set in an Eastern European dance company after the collapse of the Soviet block and deals with moral dilemmas over differing values between the returning exiles and those who stayed behind the Berlin Wall. The fable was previously the core of the 1964 Hungarian Cannes prize winner, The Maiden Danced to Life.

    Hules' credits as a writer and director include the 2007 documentary about the 1956 Hungarian revolution Torn from the Flag, co-directed by Klaudia Kovacs, daughter of cinematographer, Laszlo Kovacs. He also wrote Janos Edelenyi's upcoming movie, the Hungarian-British-Dutch-Bulgarian co-production, Prima Primavera.