The “Ambassador to Bern” clinches top made-for-television feature prize at Media Council’s inaugural Award Presentation Gala honouring films sponsored by the Hungarian Media Patronage Programme

Fifteen film makers in five categories shared the awards, with the panel of judges also giving the nod to three additional special awards recipients

Published: 18 May 2015


The makers of “The Ambassador to Bern”, “This Tree is Big”, “My Three Grandmas”, and “Wish to be a Red Indian” each came away with top awards in their category at Monday’s NMHH (National Media and Infocommunications Authority – Hungary) Media Council inaugural Award Presentation Gala in Budapest honouring films sponsored by the Hungarian Media Patronage Programme. The awards went to the cream of the film crop sponsored under the auspices of the Hungarian Media Patronage Programme that debuted at the Autumn Film Week in 2014. On hand to present the awards were NMHH and Media Council President Monika Karas and Media Council member Tamás Kollarik.

Recognition for contemporary, top-notch television film content

Media Council sponsorship fosters marrying television content creation with cultural and scientific values; works that can be seamlessly conveyed to audiences via television networks – said Media Council President Monika Karas at the Hungarian Media Patronage Programme Award Presentation Gala on Monday at the Urania National Film Theater in Budapest. Monica Karas emphasised how incorporating stellar creative media content into television programming has jumped to the helm of television network priorities. As well, Media Council sponsorship of film makers has now emerged as a crucial driver of producing such content. Monica Karas also remarked that the Media Patronage Programme has, to date, sponsored nearly 600 projects to the tune of HUF 5.5 billion, of which 297 have fully wrapped up production.

Addressing the Gala, cinematographer and independent panel of judges chair Emil Novák thanked Media Council members for their inclusiveness, for also embracing non-feature length genres, as well as for their sponsorship of film makers. Emil Novák added that in every category his panel of judges encountered worthy film productions far more numerous than the number of awards slated for distribution. Overall, the line-up of competing productions boasted a formidable pool of potential winners.
Guided by recommendations of a panel of independent judges, the Media Council awarded first, second and third prizes (HUF 1.5 million, HUF 1 million and HUF 500,000, respectively) in five categories (documentaries, popular science films, animated films, television shows, experimental films and short films). Also, three special awards for outstanding professional performance worth HUF 500,000 each were also handed out at the gala. An independent panel of judges, seven strong, selected potential winners from the 121 films sponsored by the Hungarian Media Patronage Programme and presented at the Hungarian Film Week in October 2014.

And the winners are:

In the made-for-television film category the Fehér György Award went to Attila Szász for directing his historical thriller “The Ambassador to Bern” set in the Fifties, with Bence Miklauzic as runner-up for directing “Herofinders”, the story of a boy searching for traces of a Second World War American pilot in rural Hungary, and  Bálint Mattyasovszky-Zsolnay clinching third place for “The Sketcher”, featuring a police sketch artist.

The Kollányi Ágoston Award for popular science films went to Dávid Attila Molnár for directing “This Tree is Big” about the life of an old oak tree in Gerecse. Kata Oláh was runner-up in this category for her direction of “The Griffin, the Fallow Deer and the Crow”, showcasing the lives and oeuvre of Transylvanian polyhistors Count Miklós Bánffy, Károly Kós and Baron János Kemény. Coming in third was Szabolcs Mosonyi for directing “Wild Szigetköz”, a nature film revealing to audiences a tense scenario between a unique inland delta and a sprawling built-in environment.

The top prize for the Judit Ember Award in the documentary category went to “Another Hungary” directed by Dénes Nagy about the relationship between the artist Imre Bukta and the community of Mezőszemere. “The Spymaster” earned a second-place spot for director Ágota Varga; for the very first time, this film portrays a state security officer of the former  Kádár era. Fruzsina Skrabski came in third with “Silenced Shame”, for a long-anticipated and poignant rendering of the rape of thousands of Hungarian women by Soviet soldiers in the Second World War.

In the animation category Katalin Glaser’s “My Three Grandmas” clinched the Gyula Macskássy Award, for showcasing the family’s cohesive power. The runner-up in this category was Mária Horváth for her television series “The Squared and Round Forest” based on Ervin  Lázár stories for children. Third place went to Líviusz Gyulai for directing the series “A Bad Boy’s Diary” about the adventures of an eight-year old  boy in nineteenth century America.

First prize in the experimental and short film category went to Tibor Szemző for directing “Wish to be a Red Indian”, the story of Franz Kafka’s last love and last friendship. Gábor Fabricius came second with “Dogcatcher”, which probes ethical conflict in a contemporary context. Márton Szirmai’s “Sorry!”, exploring the issue of whether inner peace can be purchased with money, earned a third place nod in this category.

Special awards were handed out to director Zsuzsanna Szuchy for “Preemies”, in which she depicts the heroic struggle for human life, to Dezső Zsigmond  for directing the documentary trilogy “Three Wise Men” portraying disadvantaged people’s perseverance against all odds,  and to actor Zsolt László for his outstanding performance in the television film “The Final Hours”, a cinematic portrayal of Lajos Batthyány.

About the panel of judges

An independent panel of judges was chaired by cinematographer and President of the Hungarian Film Academy Emil Novák, and its members included Director of the Jameson Cinefest Festival, Tibor Bíró, Director of the Szolnok Film Festival István Demeter, photographer and member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts,  Assistant Professor at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and Magyar Nemzet film industry columnist György Kárpáti, László Haris, editor-in-chief of the film industry magazine Filmvilág, Gusztáv Schubert, and Assistant Professor of the Department of Film Studies of ELTE University Balázs Varga.

The Media Council invited some 300 film industry professionals and media market stakeholders to the Award Presentation Gala. Besides announcement of the awards, guests in attendance enjoyed Ferenc Cakó’s sand animation film and violinist Félix Lajkó’s recital set to Bence Máté’s nature photography.

And the winners are:

NMHH Media Council Fehér György Award – made-for-television features:

1st Prize: The Ambassador to Bern – directed by Attila Szász
The old adage that television films are by definition boring persisted for nearly two decades after the change of regime in Hungary. An entire generation of young Hungarian film makers have, however, proved in recent years that wisdom and wit, quality drama and popularity are not necessarily contradictions in term. A brilliant example of what is possible, “The Ambassador to Bern” evokes a less well-known post-1956 revenge episode following a novel cinematographic ideal. The judges were especially appreciative of the film’s flawless teamwork, with all aboard pulling their full weight.

2nd Prize: “Herofinders” – directed by Bence Miklauzic  
A silenced past, concealed crimes, the silence of history remains toxic, whilst some forty to fifty years later the one-time tragedy, its drama dissipating, grinds into tragi-comic trivia. Bence Miklauzicz’s brilliant cast boast unrivalled command of the language of the Eastern European grotesque.

3rd Prize: “The Sketcher” – directed by Bálint Mattyasovszky-Zsolnay.
There is, there can definitely be life beyond painful Hungarian history. “The Sketcher”, in contemporary setting, narrates a bizarre crime story from the perspective of a no less unusual hero, that of a police sketch artist. The judges gave high marks for originality of subject, pitch-perfect direction, and  psychological authenticity of  cast  performance.

NMHH Media Council Ágoston Kollány Award for popular science films:

1st Prize: “This Tree is Big” – directed by Dávid Attila Molnár
Dávid  Attila Molnár’s film successfully cuts through the dilemma of disseminating general knowledge: it is at once factual and entertaining in its presentation of science. The protagonist of “This Tree is Big” is friendly, wholesome, and easy to get to know, as is the centuries-old Gerecse oak tree.

2nd Prize: “The Griffin, the Fallow Deer, and the Crow” – directed by Kata Oláh
For the authentic and poignant portrayal of three Transylvanian writers and public figures, three notable albeit still little known literary oeuvres,  three exemplary human journeys.

3rd Prize: “Wild Szigetköz” – directed by Szabolcs Mosonyi
For its brilliant cinematographic technique, sophisticated nature film style, for convincingly conveying love of and responsibility for nature.

NMHH Media Council Ember Judit Award – documentaries:

1st Prize: “Another Hungary” – directed by Dénes Nagy
This contemporary Hungarian documentary explores new paths to better connect with its audience. Dénes Nagy’s film is living proof of the tremendous role “the human dimension”, personal presence plays in the portrayal of grave societal ills. “Another Hungary” also demonstrates how the power of style, the expressiveness and personal dimension of the visual world are a plus, not a minus in cinematic sociography.

2nd Prize: “The Spymaster” – directed by Ágota Varga
This documentary by Ágota Varga, a film maker with a keen sense of dramatic composition, is a grotesque and tragic chamber play of decades of self-delusion and late-in-life, yet not fatally belated enlightenment boasting perfect casting of protagonist

3rd Prize: “Silenced Shame” – directed by  Fruzsina Skrabski
Hungarian history is riddled with silenced pain. A case in point is the fate of the Hungarian girls and women raped by Russian soldiers in 1945, a most deeply concealed individual as well as collective trauma. “Silenced Shame” is to be commended for being the first feature-length documentary to address this grievous crime, unexplored to date by literary works, and seldom evoked in motion picture films.

NMHH Media Council Macskássy Gyula Award – animation films:

1st Prize: “I had Three Grandmas” – directed by Katalin Glaser.
Everything here conspires to enchant audiences. This is a funny and profoundly human, intimate family story fuelled by the animator’s lively imagination, original drawing style, and accompanied by a score in perfect harmony with the plot’s meandering moods. “I had Three Grandmas” is a rare gem, brimming with humour-packed wisdom, a delightfully wholesome  cinematographic experience.

2nd Prize: “The Squared and Round Forest” – directed by Mária Horváth
Experiencing Mikkamakka, Vacskamati or Dömdöm is in the eye of the beholder. Audacious in her craft, Director Mária Horváth has brought to life legendary Hungarian children’s writer Ervin Lázár’s peculiar creatures, the wise and foolish, not to mention highly lovable dwellers of the Squared and Round Forest.

3rd Prize: “A Bad Boy’s Diary" – directed by: Líviusz Gyulai
Líviusz Gyulai’s trademark drawing style, bubbly love of life and curiosity become even more irresistible as he draws on “A Bad Boy’s Diary” and evokes Frigyes Karinthy’s spirit. And it never occurred to the panel of judges to resist.

The NMHH Media Council Huszárik Zoltán Award – for experimental and short films:

1st Prize: “Wish to be a Red Indian” – directed by Tibor Szemző
For the extraordinarily exciting confluence of literature, music, and experimental cinematographic spirit; for uncompromising dedication to exploratory approach to cinematographic art; for  reliably brilliant directorial delivery by Tibor Szemző

2nd Prize: “Dogcatcher” – directed by Gábor Fabricius
For epigrammatically precise and authentic snapshots of aggression-ridden Hungarian society.

3rd Prize: “Sorry!” – directed by Márton Szirmai
For a tension-filled, witty unravelling of the secret, lying dormant for twenty years, of a broken friendship; for bringing short film potential to pitch-perfect fruition.

Special Awards: