Hungarian film festival: Window to small film industry but great filmmakers

(From left to right) Tamas Gabeli (Festival Director, Budapest Short Film Festival), Peter Muszatics (Hungarian filmmaker) with Indian filmmakers Sudipto Sen and Vinod Kapri 

Hungarian film festival recently concluded in Delhi brought Indian audience closer to Hungarian films and filmmakers whose contribution to world cinema has been significant with films like Casablanca

Embassy of Hungary, in collaboration with CD Foundation, recently organised “Film Festivals and Us: An Evening with Hungarian Filmmakers” at the Constitution Club of India. The event that was attended by the likes of Zoltan Wilhelm (Director, Cultural Counsellor, Embassy of Hungary, New Delhi), Peter Muszatics (Filmmaker and Academician), Tamas Gabeli (Festival Director, Budapest Short Film Festival), Dr. Gyorgyi Vajdovich (Professor of Cinema and Media studies at ELTE, Budapest), and Indian filmmakers Sudipto Sen and Vinod Kapri, among others. The event was organised as a part of the 2018 Hungarian Film Days in India, a three-day-long film festival, comprising lectures and presentation on Hungarian cinema as well as film screenings, hosted at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi from 29-31 October 2018.

Sharing his thoughts on the legacy of Hungarian cinema, Dr Muszatics talked about the long list of Hungarian filmmakers who have made indelible contributions to world cinema starting with Michael Curtiz, director of Hollywood classics like Casablanca and Yankee Doodle Dandy, to Zoltan Fabri, director of masterworks like Merry-Go-Round and The Fifth Seal, to Istvan Szabo, director of films like Mephisto and Sunshine, to Bela Tarr, director of modern classics like Satantango and Werckmeister Harmonies, to Laszlo Nemes, who directed the 2015 Oscar-winning film Son of Saul. “The film industry in Hungary is very small and only contributes a very small percentage of films produced all around the globe. That’s the quantity but as far as the quality is concerned our presence in world cinema is much much higher as evident from our presence all world’s leading cinematic forums,” asserted Muszatics.

Vinod Kapri, whose upcoming film Pihu is set to release on November 16, took the opportunity to share his fondness for Hungarian cinema. “I am a great admirer of Hungarian cinema right from my college days. I have always wondered how Hungarian cinema has managed to maintain its high standards for so long. Whether we speak of classics like Merry-Go-Round or recent films like Son of Saul, the quality of Hungarian films have always been right up there with the best in the world. The consistency is just remarkable,” acknowledged Kapri.

Dr Zoltan Wilhelm while sharing his thoughts on the Indian-Hungarian collaboration revealed that the construction of a 21st century state-of-the-art facility to serve as the Hungarian cultural centre is currently underway at the Hungarian Embassy’s premises in New Delhi. He was also upbeat about the response that Hungarian Film Days got from the people of Delhi

“I think it is a brilliant initiative. What makes it special is that the Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre is set to complete 40 years in India this year. It started back in 1978 with the aim to disseminating Hungarian culture so that the Indian audiences can have an insight into our rich cultural tradition. We have certainly come a long way and the success of Hungarian Film Days hosted at the NGMA is a testament to our commitment and efforts,” asserted Wilhelm. “We are very happy to be here at the Constitution Club now because of course the audience is different. It is really an exciting phase for all of us,” added Wilhelm.

Sudipto Sen, noted for his indie films, talked about how Hungarian cinema has over the years had a strong influence on Indian filmmakers. “Hungarian cinema has always inspired us and great masters like Satyajit Ray and Adoor Gopalakrishnan have always attributed Eastern European cinema as a major influence factor to Indian and Middle Eastern or Western Asian cinemas. So it is great privilege that we all have gathered here to celebrate the glorious legacy of Hungarian cinema,” rejoiced Sen.

Talking about his work as Festival Director of Budapest Short Film Festival, Tamas Gabeli revealed, “We have just completed 14 years and the 15th edition is coming up in 2019. It’s been a great learning phase for us. We have fiction, experimental as well as animation short films up to duration of 30 minutes. We have no documentaries or music videos. Every year we get entries from all over the world, including India, of course. One Indian film that I fondly remember is Kusum.” Sharing his thoughts on Hungarian Film Days, Gabeli said, “We have had lectures from Peter and Gyorgyi at NGMA. Also, I am just coming from a presentation on documentary filmmaking and tomorrow I will be presenting almost 7 hours of short films. This is my first time in India but I will be back again next year for a short film festival in Guwahati where I have been invited to make a presentation.”

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