The Hungarian film industry’s revenues are at an all-time high, exceeding HUF 250 billion, a 20% increase compared to last year, according to Csaba Káel, government commissioner for the advancement of the Hungarian film industry and chairman of the board of the National Film Institute.
“Budapest has recently become Europe‘s biggest film production base after London, with top producers shooting with the world’s biggest stars. The same professionals who worked with Ridley Scott, for example, are available for Hungarian productions,” said Káel in an interview with Hungarian news outlet Origo.
He considers it a positive development from the epidemic situation that the government’s economic protection action plan supports the renovation and modernization of the NFI‘s film production base in Fót and the addition of four new studios.
“This is a qualitative leap for the Hungarian film industry, as there are already several set towns there where different eras can be filmed,” he said.
“Of course, the aim of a Hungarian film is not to make a profit, but to promote culture,” he noted. Nevertheless, film exports in Hungary generate hundreds of millions of forints every year, and this includes the distribution of older productions.
On the subject of historical films, he explained that Hungary still has ways to go in this area. According to him, some of the important events of Hungary’s past, the turning points and the fall of Communism are examples of this.
He said that the makers of the film “Blockade”, which was released in cinemas this year, did their preparation well and spoke boldly about the first serious conflict in the early days of democracy in the 1990s. Káel explained that there will be fierce disagreements and political battles around every historical film because people have different political views.
While the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns posed a major challenge, the Hungarian film industry was able to overcome these. However, the industry now faces new challenges, as the recent changes to the taxation system in the country affects many people working in film, and the war in Ukraine may keep some American filmmakers away.
Káel also called attention to Filmio, the first Hungarian public streaming service, which he called “a great success”.
“It is very popular, we are constantly developing it, and the film offer is growing every week. Most of the Hungarian film heritage of the last 121 years is now available in high quality and, after cinema and TV shows, Filmio is the first place to watch the latest films, feature films, documentaries, short films and animations,” the government commissioner noted.
Another significant issue currently at hand is the fall in the number of cinemas, with most of the ones surviving the last decade operating in shopping malls. Káel said that that they are working with the National Institute of Culture in order to bring the community cinema experience to local cultural centers, screening Hungarian films.
According to the NFI website, some 21 new full-length Hungarian films supported by the institute debuted in the cinemas in 2022, with several movies made in Hungary achieving considerable success at international festivals. The work of Zsuzsanna Sipos was awarded with both a BAFTA and an Oscar for the set of “Dune”, which was shot mostly in Hungary.
Over the course of the year, the NFI processed more than 300 applications, of which a total of 85 movies, TV films, series and animations received production support.
Photo credit: Raketir/Shutterstock.com Caption: Filming in progress in Budapest, 2022