Over 800 festival appearances and 200 recognitions within the film patronage programme

Successes of Hungarian films produced in a predictable and transparent application scheme

Published: 3 March 2017

Over the past six years, the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority has invested upwards of HUF 8.8 billion in promoting the production of media content. On the film strand of the patronage programme, over one and a half billion forints were made available subject to application in 2016 alone to support documentaries, popular science films, animated works, television films, featurettes, radio plays and films distributed online. The Academy Award and triumph at other festivals signal the fact that the Media Council is providing genuine support to filmmakers who win recognition for Hungarian films in the international scene as well.

Films from the patronage programme make festival appearances on four continents

It is without a doubt that, among all the recognitions, the Academy Award of Mindenki (Sing) generates the most responses, but films from the patronage programme have been garnering attention in the international scene for years now: they have been doing the rounds at Class A festivals, many of them appearing and winning in Cannes and at the Berlinale. Films produced in the patronage programme received more than 200 awards at over 800 Hungarian and international festivals in recognition of the treasure trove of modern Hungarian films.

Over 800 festival appearances and 200 recognitions within the film patronage programme

Although the programme only provides support to the production of films that are first shown on a Hungarian television channel with a large audience, many of these films also do well in cinemas after their TV premiere. Prime examples include Félvilág (Demimonde), a turn-of-the-century thriller for TV, the wildlife documentary Vad Kunság or the documentary Mi ez a cirkusz? (What a Circus!) about Hungarian contemporary circus company ReCirquel.

Of these, one of the most successful Hungarian feature films of recent years, Félvilág, won five trophies at the Tiburon International Film Festival in California, including the awards for best film, best director for Attila Szász and best male actor for János Kulka, while Patrícia Kovács and Dorka Gryllus received awards in Barcelona. Previously Szász had been recognised at Tiburon with the Federico Fellini Award for best non-American directorial debut for A berni követ (The Ambassador to Bern) that also won the best feature film award both at the Boston and the Anchorage International Film Festivals.

Having long-standing traditions, the Hungarian animated film industry’s latest gem is Réka Bucsi’s Love, having appeared at the Berlinale and entered into the competition in Ann Arbor and Nashville. Directed by Dávid Dell’Edera, Balkon (Balcony) received the Jury Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival where contenders also included Kojot és a szikla (Coyote and the rock), directed by Gauder Áron, also making the rounds on the international circuit. Its world premiere presented in Cannes, Superbia, an animated film directed by Luca Tóth, also won a Special Jury Mention at the American Film Institute Fest.

Tamás Topolánszky’s short film Levél Istenhez (Letter to God) also appeared in Cannes and was awarded with the Grand Prize of the New York International Short Film Festival. Magyarok a Barçáért (Barça’s Untold Legends – The Hungarian Heroes of FC Barcelona) by Tibor Kocsis had an outstanding run in the sports film category at multiple festivals, winning a special award in the FICTS Movies & TV Football – Great Champion section in Milan. The reimagining of a ballad, Tetemre hívás by Isti Madarász appeared at numerous international events, including DetectiveFEST in Moscow, the Cambridge Film Festival, the São Paulo International Film Festival and the Uppsala International Short Film Festival, just like Besence Open, a documentary by Kristóf Kovács, which was screened at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Cleveland International Film Festival and the Sarajevo Film Festival.

Among wildlife film-makers, Szabolcs Mosonyi managed to create something memorable with both Vad Szigetköz and Vad Kunság; the former won in its category at Baikalkinofest, Sondrio and Ekotopfilm, while the latter was awarded the Grand Prize at International Nature Film Festival Gödöllő. Winning the patronage programme’s call for applications to specifically support online creations, Free the jazz garnered the award for best online music film at the 2014 MEDIAWAVE festival.

The latest and best Hungarian films can be watch right now as the Hungarian Film Week is currently on, screening, among many excellent pictures, Mindenki, which received support from the Film Fund to cover marketing costs, as well as the recent winner for Best Film at Berlinale, Testről és lélekről (On Body and Soul), directed by Ildikó Enyedi and produced under the Film Funds programme.

The National Media and Infocommunications Authority and its Media Council plays an active role in the operation of the Hungarian film support scheme

A key to the success of Hungarian films is the well-designed, three-pillar film support structure (see annex) on which the creators of Mindenki, among others, could rely: they applied for funding for their film (HUF 8 million) and for support for marketing costs (nearly HUF 8 million) from the Film Fund and they also benefitted from indirect State aid (HUF 2 million in their case). The primary mission of the Hungarian National Film Fund is to support feature films intended for cinemas; these efforts came to fruition in such films as Saul fia (Son of Saul), a Tiszta szívvel (Kills on Wheels) and Testről és lélekről (On Body and Soul). At the same time, the National Media and Infocommunications Authority’s Media Council provides support through the film strand of the Hungarian Media Patronage Programme for non-feature films intended primarily for television, be it TV films, short films, nonfiction films, animated films, online films or documentaries. In addition to these two direct support options, the Hungarian indirect support scheme has proven to be very attractive in the film industry. The National Media and Infocommunications Authority has an important role in administering this scheme as well.

Tax advantages beyond direct support

Film producers may recover up to 25% of the costs of Hungarian, coproduced or contracted films produced in Hungary by taking advantage of a corporate tax allowance. This indirect support is available through a procedure of and certificate issued by the National Film Office of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority. The Hungarian National Film Fund has a custodial account in place to facilitate the collection and disbursement of support resulting from tax.

The National Media and Infocommunications Authority reported that last year around 300 films were shot partially or entirely in Hungary, totalling over HUF 125 billion, of which Hungarian-only films represented HUF 15 billion for 243 pictures. In addition, films produced involving contract work in Hungary include Die Hard 5, Hercules, Spy, Inferno or Blade Runner 2049. The latter production alone spent HUF 28.5 billion in Hungary, contributing to boosting Hungarian economy.

With its film industry, Hungary indeed stands out internationally: last year, two-and-a-half times more money was spent on films in Hungary in total than in 2009, with this amount having increased almost twenty-fold since 2004. A survey by the European Audiovisual Observatory shows that film-related allowances and circumstances in Hungary are attractive for international film-makers: in the early 2010s (2010–2013), the spending-to‑GDP ratio (0.15% in Hungary, including international productions) was twice as much as similar spending in the UK (0.08), France (0.07%) or Italy (0.03).