In romantic movies there is a recurring idea that ”If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were.” André Libik’s life started in Hungary, had a long, incredible international chapter and continued back in his home country. Though his story is more of a gripping adventure movie than a romance, to keep a romantic element, however, perhaps one can say that Hungary must love Libik – and with good reason to do so as evident in a recent double celebration.
Born in Budapest in 1932 as András Libik, he began his experience abroad in a Swiss boarding school at 15, after which he returned to Hungary in 1950. He began his higher education and enrolled in film school. At 23, he got married and started a family but soon after life changed, as he knew it: the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began. He decided it was best for him and his family to leave the country, so they moved to Vienna, then Paris and later in Munich. He was always in search of ways to find work in the film industry, but opportunities evaded him for a while.
But that didn’t last forever, and we don’t have enough space to list all his accomplishments. He wrote and was the director of three short films for the French Red Cross, became Head of the Film Division for Nigeria’s Ministry of Information and won a ‘Silver Bear’ in Berlin for “The Ancestors”, a documentary he wrote, produced and directed. He had his own German film production company, and has achieved major success in French, German and Hungarian film circles.
Libik is a creative, life-affirming adventurer full of fascinating anecdotes. He was always in search of complex stories and neglected but important topics, which he then authentically told with often never-before seen film recordings. Just like a real-life hero’s journey, he left Hungary seeking artistic freedom to go through his personal and professional evolution – to then accomplish all the incredible things he has done as a writer, producer and director – and then returned in 1992 once the political climate allowed him to do so. Since then he has been involved in countless societies, projects, productions, and academies and has received many awards and prizes to prove it. His career is truly incredible.
A few days ago he turned 91 years old and the Hungarian Hollywood Council along with Origo Studios held a commemorative luncheon to celebrate him. As part of the festivities, Balázs Bokor, President of the Hungarian Hollywood Council, Horváthné dr. Márta Fekszi, CEO of Origo Film Group and István Vécsi, Mayor of Ricse, Adolph Zukor’s hometown, ceremoniously handed over the Council’s flagship Adolph Zukor Award to Libik for all that he has done in the industry. The award that previously only 13 people received is given to those public personalities who have achieved success in film or other areas of the arts and culture, strengthening the legacy and preserving the memory of Hungarians in Hollywood.
At the luncheon, were several of his former dear colleagues were present, he jokingly claimed that he is a better storyteller than director and entertained guests with his many personal stories from the past. A fragment of these stories are collected in his autobiography entitled ”Pretty Girls and Terrorists”, published in 2000. He is proud that curiosity and film were his guiding light: ”I have made good movies and I have made some bad ones too though never on purpose and there is nothing I am ashamed of. I would rather starve but I always wanted to make movies. You have to have that conviction to to tell the stories you want to tell.”
He believes that filmmakers risk their entire existence with every picture they create. Despite that, however, it was all he ever desired to do – to be a part of the wonderful world that film is and to make good movies. And that, he did. May he have many more years of creative expression.