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New Hungarian fund offers cash, guidance, Vajna says

Hungarian National Film Fund awaiting government green light

Hungary’s new film commissioner, Andy Vajna, arrives in Cannes Saturday (May 14), his first major festival since unveiling his proposal to restore funding for his country’s beleaguered filmmakers.

If approved by the government later this month, the Hungarian National Film Fund (MNFA) plans to fund development, production and promotion of three to four films this year and up to 10 projects next year and each year thereafter.

“As soon as we get the green light from the government, we’ll go to work on it,” Vajna told ScreenDaily.com.

The MNFA would fund only half as many films as were supported by its predecessor, the Hungarian Motion Picture Public Foundation (MMKA), which was dissolved earlier this month. “MMKA took on so many obligations that it became a huge bureaucracy rather than a production-support company,” Vajna said.

“I think everybody is rethinking their support, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here in Hungary,” Vajna said. “It’s sad that it’s taking this long but that’s what it takes.”

Vajna will assemble a five-member panel of experts, who will award funding to projects on a continuous basis. Projects will normally receive up to 50% of their budget to a maximum of HUF 150m. Projects can apply for exceptional support, up to 90% of their budget, returnable based on box-office revenues.

MNFA advisors will help guide projects from development through production and release. “We need to develop the talent. We need to make sure they are supported and guided through the maze and given goals that they can reach,” Vajna said. “Hungary is kind of in a box and everyone thinks in that box. If we can have them start thinking outside that box I think we’re going to be getting much more interesting pictures.”

Some Hungarian producers are wary of MNFA involvement in their projects, however. Eurofilm Studio producer Péter Miskolczi said producers had questions for Vajna regarding their independence. “Producers and directors shouldn’t have to fight for their right to the final cut,” he said.

Miskolczi said that, despite uncertainty over exactly how involved MNFA will be in projects, Vajna’s plan is viable. “The new plan is better than no plan at all,” he said.

Miskolczi also pointed out that Hungary’s 20% tax rebate remained secure. Eurofilm is currently in production on Astérix And Obélix: God Save Britannia. Budapest remains as busy as ever, with Korda Studios reporting its facilities are fully booked through the end of the year. Mini-series The Borgias and World Without End both begin shooting July 4.

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