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Archive for February, 2012

For the second year straight, a Hungarian film-maker has won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlin International Film Festival. Just last year Hungarian national treasure, Bela Tarr, won for his latest art-house film The Turin Horse.  This year sees Bence Fliegauf win for his searing drama Just The Wind (Csak a Szél).

The film looks at a fictionalized version of the targeting and murder of six Roma in the Hungarian country-side in 2008. Focusing on one family, and the ethnic Hungarians around them, critics cite Just The Wind’s minimalistic story-telling, tense close-up shots, and sound artistry as highlights of the lauded film.

Film blog bfi.org.uk states, “For me, it was the build-up of unease that made the film really special, with the sound design…sometimes using the almost subliminal tremor of a string instrument to create tension.”

Quoting The Hollywood Reporter, “Fliegauf mixes the foreboding backstory of one with the handheld, documentary intensity of the other to create an atmosphere that’s consistently menacing and strikingly realistic.”

Variety says, “Creating an atmosphere of mounting threat without ever resorting to histrionics, this spare, naturalistic drama centers on a Romany family from an isolated village where five other such families were gunned down in their own homes. At a time when Hungarian politics are taking an increasingly nationalistic turn, the pic’s frank acknowledgment of the country’s entrenched racism appears especially brave.”

Just the Wind sees Fliegauf’s return to his native Hungary, after making a foray into English language film-making with the sci-fi drama Womb. At just 37 years of age, Fliegauf has been a star on the local scene since making his debut in 2003 with Forest (Rengeteg).  The writer/director teamed with long-time partners Inforg-M&M Film for the film, which insiders are tipping as an Oscar contender for Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s competition. Congratulations for this hard-won achievement, one that will bring attention to a complex social problem as well as to film-making in Hungary.

Below, find the trailer for Fliegauf’s previous film, Womb.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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5. Tokaj Aszú: Perhaps the wine of kings is virtually unknown in America because we have no tradition of royalty, or due to the fact that dessert wines don’t figure into many menus. Or perhaps it is the price that is prohibitive, a modest 3 puttonyos bottle could set you back close to a hundred dollars at a wine shop. But in Hungary, Tokaj Aszú – made from grapes that have attained a ‘noble rot ‘ on the vine – is available relatively inexpensively by the bottle – or by the glass at any of any upscale bar.

4. Tisza Trainers: Retro-hip has never been cooler in Budapest, especially to a generation that is discovering kitsch and didn’t have to endure the repression of the Soviet-imposed socialist regime. This re-fangled brand of shoe updates the omnipresent state-owned Tisza trainer, to fantastic results. It is only a matter of time before Japanese shoe fetishists catch on.

3. Tomatoes: Try this: cut out the stem at the top of a summertime tomato, put it to your lips and suck. What you get is a burst of pure tomato flavor that might as well be another fruit from the pale, grainy supermarket-bought American variety. True, tomatoes are not originally Hungarian – not by a long shot – and they don’t use them in cooking as much as they do in the Balkans, but a Hungarian tomato is one of our true simple seasonal pleasures.

2. Mangalica pork: believe the hype. The rescue of this species of wooly pig from near extinction and its ascension as a sought-after gourmet foodstuff is already well documented, so much so that it has become popular to bash the trendy pig. But there is a good reason mangalica it has found its way onto the menus of America’s most esteemed restaurants: the meat is beautifully marbled and fantastically rich. That’ll do, pig.

1. Le Parfum perfumes: Using scents of derived from such whimsical sources as absinthe and smoky lapsang souchong tea, Zsolt Zólyomi’s perfumes, which he creates for his own line as well as already existing brands, are inventive and exclusive. But expect no Eastern European budget shopping here: prices of his artisan perfumes run close to $ 150 for a 100-ml size bottle. The price of  Le Parfum, may make you dizzy, but the scent will make you swoon.

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Every country has a drink they are famous for. France had champagne, Scotland has scotch whisky, and Mexico has tequila. Hungary of course is no exception, offering visitors a chance to taste the strange herbal aperitif known as Unicum.

The purple/brown digestive has been a mainstay of Hungarian bars and liqueur cabinets since its invention in the 17th century by the Zwack family. And with the cold weather dropping into the deep freeze in these parts, revelers are increasingly turning to the warming spirit to keep a fire lit in the belly.

Like most national treasures, there is a bit of lore surrounding Unicum. Its medicinal qualities are touted heavily by imbibers, as the aperitif is believed to resolve digestion problems.  It is claimed the drink got its name when Emperor Josef II tasted it and proclaimed: “Das ist ein UNIKUM”, or “That is unique!”  Non-Hungarian natives have other words for it. I quote from Time Out Magazine: Unicum is “bitter as cold winter’s night”, or “Like licking the blade of a lawn-mower.”  This grassy bitterness can be put down to the almost 40 herbs used in the recipe. Which herbs they are is a well-guarded trade secret. Once the Zwack family fled Hungary (and the Communist regime) the government, missing the drink, attempted to replicate it, marketing the results of educated guess-work under the Unicum brand name. Only after the regime fell did the Zwacks return to Hungary to reclaim the brand and begin producing Unicum according to the exacting standards under which it was created.

Though Americans prefer the sweeter Jagermeister and Italian Fernet, there is a Facebook page dedicated to bringing Unicum to the States. One quality of Unicum which makes foreigners resist it is its lack of mixability. What could possibly go well with Unicum? Unlike pálinka (a Hungarian fruit brandy) it does not play well with others, and we have yet to taste a reasonable cocktail made with the spirit. But why would you want to dilute such a powerful, unique flavor? To some of us, it tastes like Hungary itself, and as we all know, Hungary is able to stand on its own.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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