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Archive for July, 2012

Great locations needn’t be beautiful, they only need to be appropriate for the project. While we have been bringing much attention to the more elegant aspects of classic Budapest, like the bridges and fin de siècle architecture of the older neighborhoods, there are also enormous location possibilities for industrial spaces within the city’s confines. Foremost, there is the abandoned industrial park on Csepel Island in District XXI. Before and, especially, during the socialist era, the park was an active hub of industrial manufacturing. Now the factories, foundries, and warehouses – and much of the park, is deserted, leaving behind a kind of industrial ghost town. And what a sizable town it is – at around 200 hectares, there is no shortage of open space and creepy, urban architecture.

Once presided over by an oversized statue of Lenin, the Csepel Industrial Park was the pride of the socialist regime, producing such wide-ranging products as safety pins, automobiles, and of course the iconic Csepel bicycle. At one point the state-run park employed as many as 30,000 proud workers. Though the area feels like the ghosts of Stalin and Marx still haunt it, it was actually founded in 1912, much earlier than their time, and several if the original structures remain.

These days, Csepel Industrial Park has become a paradise for skateboarders, a home to packs of stray dogs, and practice venue of heavy metal bands. You don’t get much grittier than its deteriorating brick buildings. It would not be a stretch to say that Csepel Industrial Park is prematurely ‘post-apocalyptic.’ Is it only a matter of time before the entire park is torn down and rebuild as a housing estate, or gated community? If so, it will be a bit of history sliced from the city’s underbelly. Csepel may be ugly, but it is ours.

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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It is well known that a few Hungarians have made it big as actors in Hollywood. Bela Lugosi and Zsa Zsa Gabor have used their charms to become almost stereotypes of the exotic, deeply charismatic Magyar on-screen. But did you know that there are many other actors with Hungarian roots? These are thespians who managed to make huge careers without playing up the strong accents of their immigrant parents or grandparents. Note: most did change their names to make them more palatable to American audiences.

Photo by Alan Light

For starters, grand dame scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Hollywood legend (and child of Hungarian immigrants) Tony Curtis, has been on movie  screens since her debut as the innocent heroine Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s Halloween. This led to a slew of roles in slasher films, then later comedies like Trading Places and A Fish Called Wanda. Curtis is known to return to Budapest from time to time, and was a major force in fund-raising for the Dohány Street Synagogue renovation.

For many years in the 90s, America’s biggest TV star was Jerry Seinfeld. Though his eponymous character’s father makes no allusion to a Hungarian background, Seinfeld’s real-life father was indeed named Kálmán, and of Hungarian origin. There might have been a joke in the fact that Kálmán ‘sein’feld was a ‘sign’ maker from Hungary. Though the show was never a hit in Hungary, Seinfeld is routinely listed as one of the top critical and commercial successes in the history of American television.

Photo by Alan Light

As if this wasn’t enough, Hollywood royalty, and America’s ‘golden girl’ Goldie Hawn was born to a Hungarian immigrant, Laura Steinhoff. Hawn has been the darling of American cinema for over 40 years, starring in such films as Cactus Flower (for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar), Shampoo, Private Benjamin, and Death Becomes Her. She was nominated for Golden Globe awards eight times and won once. Goldie Hawn is the mother of Kate Hudson, who has a small film career of her own.

‘Is this all you have to offer?’ you may ask. No, the list of film and TV stars with Hungarian roots goes on and on, but this post won’t. Stay tuned for A Dash of Paprika Part II, coming soon.

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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It was a big week for Hungarian film abroad, with Bence Fliegauf’s’s Csak a Szél (Just the Wind) winning more praise and honors in Paris, France, at the Paris Cinema Film Festival, where it was awarded the main prize by the jury. It is the first time a Hungarian film has won such a prize in the ten-year-old festival’s history. Csak a Szél, which we wrote about earlier this year upon its huge win at the Berlin International Film Festival, is the director’s exploration into the lives of a Roma family on the day of a murderous racist attack. The latest festival win precedes its international distribution, and bodes well for further success.

But the bigger news, perhaps, is the win by Orsi Nagypal for her film Roundabout at the Sarajevo Film Festival. The short won the Atlantic Group Award, which included a 2000-euro prize. In the words of the jury: “the Atlantic Group Award goes to the film that has a clear and straightforward storyline with coherent and good idea and funny and light way of presenting a story, a character and his situation of life in the midlife crisis.” Shot in Sarajevo, on a three-day time restriction, the ambitious film comprised multiple locations in and around Sarajevo, and concerns a man who falls in love with the voice of his car’s GPS. To further the attention the film received, the showing was attended by Angelina Jolie, who was at the festival as an honorary guest.

It was a big year for Nagypal, whose short film Cold Shower also won Best Short at the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles, in addition to seeing screenings across the globe from South America, North America, and Europe. The writer/director also saw funding approved for the development of her feature-length film Balaton Submarine.

Below, find an interview of Orsi Nagypal from the Sarajevo Film Festival.

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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You would have had to be living under a rock or on a deserted island to have missed the phenomenon of The Hunger Games, which in both book and film form has single-handedly revived public interest in the literary genre known as ‘dystopia’. Dystopian literature is known for its cautionary vision of the future, frequently satirizing authoritarian governments. George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange are dystopian classics. You might look to films like Logan’s Run, Blade Runner, The Matrix, and even Fritz Lang’s Metropolis as examples of great dystopian films.

But did you know that one of the most influential dytopian books of all time, Voyage To Kazohinia, was written by a Hungarian? Kazohinia – or Kazo – as those in the know call it, is a cult classic that very recently was re-issued in English by the small press New Europe Books in the United States. It features a hero named Gulliver who – after being shipwrecked in the South Pacific – discovers the nation of Kazohina, where a social system that acts not unlike a communism, dictates all actions of its inhabitants. Increasingly frustrated by the Hin’s way of life, which acknowledges no emotion, religion, or personal possessions, Gulliver escapes to the cordoned-off penal colony of the Behins, where anarchy rules. Gulliver – fearing for his life and sanity – plans and executes an escape from the island nation.

Many have read Kazohinia as a satire of communist utopias. It is to the communists’ credit (or due to their total lack of literary insight) that the book was reprinted several times in Hungary during the communist rule. Another curious fact is that Szathmári was one of the leading figures and voices of the Esperanto movement, and even wrote Kazohinia in Esperanto (it had to be translated into Hungarian).

Voyage to Kazohinia belongs in the cannon of great dystopian literature, where it holds a special  – if not unique place – having been written by an author who lived under the alleged utopian system he satirized. There was a film made of Voyage to Kazohinia (see link below – it is in Hungarian, however); but just like the book deserved, and received, a re-issue, should the film not be remade as well? Might it be Hungary’s own Hunger Games?

 

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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This month’s newsletter, which you can sign up for here (it’s free!), details some of the myths and preconceptions westerners may have about Hungarians (we’re looking at you, USA).  We came up with six, the first three of which are listed below.

6) Microwave Ovens Have Yet to be Introduced in Hungary: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs can only look upon Hungary with envy and gratitude, because without a Hungarian, you wouldn’t be reading this newsletter. In addition to making the most significant advancement in the invention of the computer (Janos Neumann, 1944), a Hungarian also created much of Microsoft Word and Excel (Charles Simonyi). Not cool enough? How about József Galamb, creator of Ford’s iconic Model-T car, or Oszkár Asbóth, inventor of the helicopter.

5) Hungarians Will Try to Marry You for Your Passport: Well, here we will have a problem talking you down. At one point, so many American diplomats and politicians had Hungarian-born wives that Romania insisted it was part of a conspiracy. That said, Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe, and its population have ethnic roots distinct from the Slavic countries Hungary borders. Budapest was recently named by Playboy Magazine as having the sexiest female population; falling in love may be the most dangerous part of your experience here.

4) Eastern Europe is only Good for Horror Movies: Well, it is true that Bela Lugosi was Hungarian, and made the Hungarian accent famous and synonymous with that of Count Dracula, but as of late, it is mostly spy films and stories of international political intrigue that are shot in Budapest, making use of the city’s changeable facades. The closest thing to a major horror shoot was almost four years ago when Anthony Hopkins and company arrived to make The Rite.

If you want to see the top three preconceptions westerners have about Eastern Europe, particularly Hungary, and why they are dead wrong, have a look at this page, and put your email address down (still free!).

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.

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