Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

Budapest

Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

Budapest

Article excerpt

Magyar Filmintezet / Filmarchivum

The state of the Hungarian cinema after the change of regime

The greatest event in the film branch was the establishment of the Hungarian Foundation of Motion Pictures (HFMP) in May 1991. On the initiative of 15 film organizations and as a result of six months preparation, the administrative and the patronizing functions of the state have been separated. Consequently, the once omnipotent Film Department of the Ministry of Culture has reduced its activity to administration while the HFMP, a self-governing body, is responsible for actually dividing the state budget for the cinema among production, distribution and exhibition. It was a structural change most welcome by the newly elected government early in 1990.

The HFMP is headed by a National Board of Trustees and its secretariat is led by the former head of the Film Department. The National Board has appointed 9 individual boards to allocate state subsidies. They are specialized for animation, art kino and film societies, documentaries, film distribution, feature films, experimental cinema, Scientific films, film exhibition and video. The state provided 220 million forints for the last quarter of 1991 and a total of 800 million for the year 1992. Hungarian film production tries to survive under extremely hard financial circumstances. Although MAFILM, a former state enterprise providing complex production facilities to the various studios, has gone bankrupt, there are still quite a few Hungarian films made: 33 in 1989, 29 in 1990 and 19 in 1991. The traditional yearly festival of the Hungarian cinema could not take place in 1991. However, at the 23d Festival early in 1992,43 features were shown (22 for the first time) and 234 foreign and Hungarian journalists attended. Some critics worried about the influx of foreign capital: however desirable on the whole, it may adversely affect the specifics of the Hungarian cinema and make it too commercial.

The number of cinemas is rapidly diminishing: of the 2,239 in 1989 little more than half survived the year 1991. American commercial cinema dominates the movie programs and there is hardly any interest for home products. The old structure of film exhibition is falling apart: the central firms in every county are either liquidated or transformed. Privatization has started rather slowly and has not yet gained speed.

In the period 1989-1991, the total number of films shown in Hungary was 236, 251 and 218 respectively. The monopoly of the once only distributor, Mokép, has been broken gradually. …

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