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Archive for March, 2012

Any trip to Budapest is all but wasted without a visit to one of the Turkish, and Turkish-inspired baths, which have been a central part of the city’s character since the 1500s. During the Ottoman occupation, the Turks discovered that the faults which run under the city gushed warm mineral water; water that could be tapped and used in the creation of unique restorative baths. The Turks left long ago, but the baths they built remain, and since that period, the city of Budapest has added many new facilities to their collection, which can be found in both Buda and Pest.

The baths vary in size from the small Király (which was built inside the Palace walls, and has its water pumped uphill from the Lukács bath) to the grand, very popular Széchényi. The Széchényi Bath is located in the City Park, which is surrounded by working-class neighborhoods, making it the most popular choice for locals and tourists alike.

Built in a Neo-Baroque style in 1913, the Széchényi Baths have received multiple expansions and now comprise 15 baths that include outdoor pools, steam rooms and sauna, and a massage facility. The curative powers of its mineral water, rich in fluoride and metabolic acid, calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, sodium and sulfate, is validated by the fact that the Hungarian State health insurance plan covers trips to the baths when prescribed by a doctor. Aching joints, arthritis are the most common ailments the baths are supposed to aid, but would you believe the water can also be purchased for a drinking cure? (The sulfur-tasting water is said to assist in the treatment of gastric ailments of all stripe.)

Oh – and just have a look at these pictures, which also include shots from other famous local baths like the Gellért, Rudas, and Lukács Baths.

As you can see, the baths are rightfully a point of pride and figure into the cultural and historical fabric of the community. The Turks are gone, but the sumptuous baths remain, ensuring we can all feel like pasha for at least a few hours.

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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Every year hundreds of Norwegians come to Budapest, not as tourists, but as students, making use of the English-language veterinary and medical programs taught at some of Budapest’s top universities. There, students get top-flight educations at schools like world famous Semmelweis Uninversity.

What they can expect when they arrive is mixture of old and new world. The university was founded in 1769 (though renamed to Semmelweis later) and many of the buildings are as old. As you can see, we have classical styles mixed with pedestrian high-rises around the University’s campuses. Named after Ignaz (known is Ignac in Hungarian) Semmelweis, the man himself is one of Hungary’s most lauded figures, contributing to the sphere of pediatrics by discovering the cause and treatment of puerperal fever. He was also the first to forward a theory of germ infection, and a system of sterilizing equipment, while urging – much to their dismay – surgeons to wash their hands.

Like many reformers and great thinkers, Semmelweis was far enough ahead of his time that nobody took his greatest theories seriously. Refusing to back down in the face of the academy, and suffering from minor undiagnosed ailments, the great doctor found himself a patient in an insane asylum, where he died at age 47. When Louis Pasteur proved Semmelweis correct, the term ‘Semmelweis Reflex’, which Wikipedia defines as “a metaphor for a certain type of human behavior characterized by reflex-like rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms, beliefs or paradigms,” was coined. Of course, now it is a given that doctors wash their hands and sterilize equipment. But those notions were soundly rejected on the basis that the infecting agent was not visible to the human eye.

Semmelwies and other Hungarian universities are becoming increasingly popular with students from countries such as Norway. Around town you can hear their strange language and curious faces in their wake (not many languages are stranger than Hungarian). I wonder how you say ‘Semmelwies Reflex’ in Norwegian?

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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Like most Hungarian inventors, László’s Bíró’s life was fraught with intrigue, adventure and tragedy. You will recognize his invention by his last name: the word synonymous with modern writing tools. The Biro, though not the first ballpoint pen, was the first functional ballpoint pen that was dependable and could stand up to the rigors of travel and frequent use.

The idea to create the ballpoint came from the frustrations Bíró experienced as a journalist. Fountain pens were not practical and were frequently messy to work with. Biro found that the real test in perfecting his invention was not the design, which came fairly quickly, but the ink, which needed exactly the right consistency to flow from the pen without stopping up the ball. Bíró and his partners experimented for years, taking on numerous investors (and giving up valuable rights) along the way. One prominent investor was the British Air Force, which needed a pen that would not burst at high altitudes (they still use Biro’s ballpoint pent to this day).

Biro might have lived out a comfortable life with his family, but as with most prominent figures of the 20th Century, history intervened. Bíró, though secular, was of Jewish ethnicity, and subject to the prejudice and discrimination. Anticipating the horrors of World War II, Bíró immigrated to Paris, where he was able to patent his version of the pen. When it became clear that Paris was not safe either, he boarded a ship to Argentina, at the behest of a fellow Hungarian, who planned to build a global business around producing and licensing rights to the pen. Because Bíró was indebted to his investors, and depended on them to get is wife out of the increasingly hostile atmosphere in Hungary, he was never able to financially exploit his own invention. Indeed, the patent was eventually sold to Marcel Birch, who, over time, evolved the Biro into the Bic, the most popular pen in history. Bíró died well off, but by no means rich.

The Argentinians honor Bíró on his birthday, September 29, and proclaim it ‘Inventors’ Day.’ The rest of the world honors Bíró every time they pick up a ballpoint pen: one of the most revolutionary products in history.

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.

About the author: Matt Ellis is an author coach and manuscript editor at Word Pill Editing. Have a look here for an affordable Manuscript Critique.

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Emmy Award-winning storyteller Janet Tobias knew she had a film-worthy narrative on her hands when she heard the story of a few Jewish families who hid in a cave in rural Ukraine for much of the German invasion during WII. For the first time in 60 years, four of the survivors of the occupation revisited the dark place they once called home. Their ordeal forms the basis of the documentary The Cave.

For the recreation scenes used in the documentary, three filming locations were considered, but the Aggtelek mountain range in Northern Hungary was chosen over the others. Costs in Hungary were generally lower and the locations were more suitable for the shoots, which take place both winter and spring. The beautiful scenery and accessible cave in Aggtelek sealed the deal. PPM helped in every aspect of the production.

The greatest challenge of the shoot was without a doubt the freezing winter temperatures and at some locations very deep snow. Aggtelek itself – unchanged for centuries – provided a stunning background, though the crew had to be mindful not to upset or damage the natural setting. Shooting in a cave proved challenging, but the experienced crews accomplished the task on schedule and without setback. The 30-member crew worked at a fast pace in these tough conditions with only one camera. “They work as hard as I ‘ve ever seen on set, always helping, from the minor details to the big decisions,” says director of photography Edu Grau.

Director Janet Tobias also appreciated the quality of the PPM crew. “Every unit of the crew was up to the caliber of crews I have worked with in New York and elsewhere in the United States.”

Shooting lasted five days over the course of a frigid January and the crew will return to the site for a longer period mid May.

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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Imagine a rural village in the middle of the city: a place that could pass for the quiet berg where your average Transylvanian vampire calls home, or the setting where a young man is preparing to defend his lady friend’s honor in first duel.

All the feelings of romance and Gothic creepiness are apparent in and around the Wekerle Estate in Budapest. Originally built to house the influx of workers to the city in the late 19th Century, the area was conceived as a kind of agrarian housing development. Built between 1909 and 1926, it was originally named the Kispest Workers and Clerks Settlement.

The Transylvanian feel of the buildings on the Estate’s central Kós Károly Square comes from the primary architect, Károly Kós, who brought to the project his Transylvanian rustic sensibility.  This is especially apparent in the use of wood in building and ornamentation. Keeping in the Kós style, more recently, Dezsó Zrumeczky added this unique and visually arresting wooden gate.

When you consider the housing developments that came not long afterwards, in the form of Communist block houses, or as we know them, tenements, the Wekerle Estate is all the more amazing and humane as a housing solution. These days, the real estate around the square is highly sought afters and, though there have been a few unfortunate architectural additions to the square, much of the country feel remains in this ‘village in the city’.

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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