Friday morning at Budapest's Millenium Theatre, Istvan Szabo spoke with journalists in an attempt to shed morelight on his involvement with the state police in the 1950s.

With classmates Judit Elek,Eva Singer Karmento, Zsolt Kezdi-Kovacs and Janos Rosza, Szabo related thecircumstances that led to his unwilling cooperation with the communistauthorities: Police apprehended Szabo and a number ofothers took them to a hotel that served as headquarters for the secret police.There, they were held for three days and subjected largely to psychologicalpressure, although Kovacs said he saw police kick Szabo.

Although Szabo and his colleagues subsequently filed reports to the police, they insist that their reportsprimarily were meaningless and meant to confuse the authorities. Thefilm-makers expressed the idea that, through their pseudo-cooperation with thepolice, they were able to continue their careers and thereby tell their story,albeit in a roundabout manner. "If your fate makes it necessary to learnhow to behave under a dictatorship, I have made a film called Confidence. It's all in there," Szabos said.

Szabos new film, Relatives, opened the 37th Hungarian Film Week in Budapeston January 31. News of the director's past involvement with the communistauthorities has focused international attention on the small festival, whichruns until February 7.

Last week, the Oscar-winning director told Hungarian media that he had cooperatedwith communist security agents in the 1950s to protect the lives of his fellowfilm-makers who had participated in the Hungarian revolution 50 years ago. Oneof these individuals was Pal Gabor, who had taken uparms in the revolution. Gabor later went on to makethe political drama Angi Vera, which the International Critics'Prize at Cannes in 1979.

Szabo told Hungarian daily Nepszabadság that he was proud ofhis actions. "It was the most courageous and adventurous thing in my life,since I was able to save one of my classmates from being disclosed andhanged," he told the paper.

"People ask me why I didn't say something 16 years ago," after thefall of communism in Hungary,Szabos told journalists. "I didn't have theauthorisation to say anything about this [before now]," he said. "Itwould have been bad timing."

Szabos expressed gratitude to his my classmates."I am especially grateful to those who are no longer with us and can'tshare with us what happened," he said.

In 1982, Szabos's film Mephisto won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Confidence was nominated for an Oscar in1981 and won its director a Silver Bear at Berlinin 1980