Bela Tarr and other Hungarian filmmakers today fired a shot across the bow of their government, decrying measures there which they say endanger their industry.
“The Hungarian government has decided that instead of the democratic self-government structure that has guaranteed the plurality of Hungarian film so far, they will introduce a single-person decision-making system,” reads a letter signed by Tarr and eight other Hungarian auteurs, sent to journalists today.
International professionals are also expressing solidarity with the Hungarians. The letter lists more than 40 other international filmmakers who have joined their support, among them Alfonso Cuaron, Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Atom Egoyan, Aki Kaurismaki, Cristian Mungiu, Gus van Sant and Tilda Swinton.
“It is our view that this decision endangers the hitherto varied nature of Hungarian film,” the letter continues.
The “single-person decision-making system” is a veiled reference to Hungarian-born Hollywood producer Andrew G. Vajna, who has accepted a government invitation to draft a plan to renew the Hungarian film industry.
Vajna’s commission falls under the Hungarian Ministry for National Development and Economy, whose 2011 budget includes nearly $10m for film industry-related endeavors. Funding for the Hungarian Motion Picture Public Foundation, meanwhile, has been cut nearly 80%, and many local production are shuttered, waiting for money the government promised last year.
Vajna will attend a Feb 13 meeting at the Collegium Hungaricum in Berlin, where Hungarian industry professionals will air their differences.
Vajna was not available to comment as of press time, but he acknowledged in an interview with Hungarian news agency MTI published yesterday that filmmakers are impatient and anxiously awaiting news of what the future will bring.
In the interview, Vajna said he was setting aside his own work as a producer while he maps out a plan to renew the Hungarian film industry. He said he is not receiving a salary for his work with the ministry and that, while his brief is for a year, he expects to complete the job within months.
Vajna said he wants to consolidate the Hungarian industry and eliminate prejudices that exist between art-house and audience film, saying that the two complement each other.
He also suggested that talented filmmakers will emerge even without generous funding, citing Robert Rodgriguez’s breakout film El Mariachi, which the producer said was shot for $220,000.
The Hungarian filmmakers’ letter is signed by Ildikó Enyedi, Benedek Fliegauf, Szabolcs Hajdú, Miklós Jancsó, Ágnes Kocsis, Márta Mészáros, Kornél Mundruczó, György Pálfi and Béla Tarr.