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Archive for June, 2013

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Once of PPM’s more recent collaborations was with up-and-coming Norwegian film-maker Eivind Tolas. His short film – Ballett (with Kari Simonsen and Helge Jordal in the lead roles)  – was produced partially in Hungary, and has since been seen in various film festivals in locations as distant as Tokyo, where Ballett was shown as part of the Short Shorts Film Festival Asia 2013. The film, which can be viewed here, tells a sweet but surprising story. Keeping in the spirit of Ballett, we requested a brief interview with the director. Here it is: short and sweet.

PPM: Can you tell us a little about Ballett?

Eivind Tolas: Ballett was developed after a very simple, but nice idea that a friend of mine had. What if an old couple is so in sync with each other that every single movement in their evening ritual seems choreographed perfectly. Everything seems smooth (as smooth as it can be for an old couple). That is – right up to when they’re about to kiss goodnight… It’s a physical comedy, kind of a dance film, and it’s subject matter is love and what kind of attitude that can makes a relationship work.

PPM: What was your experience making a film in Hungary like?

Eivind Tolas: My producer found PPM after we had a suggestion by a friend of ours that Hungary was a good country to produce in. The production went as smoothly as it could within the limits of time and budget. I was impressed with the technical skill of the staff and the film understanding and service-mindedness of PPM. I am very open to doing a production in Hungary again.

PPM: How did the film find its way to Japan?

Eivind Tolas: I was curious about how the film would resonate on the other side of the world, and I’m pleased to say that the reception of the film in Japan was very good. I’m also very glad that the film was selected for such a prestigious competition.

PPM: What’s next for Ballett?

Eivind Tolas: Right now the Norwegian Film Institute is doing the distribution of the film, and I’m not sure exactly where it will go next. I know Spain has been mentioned in the autumn. We will see. Right now I’m in the middle of production of a big documentary series, and that takes almost all my time and focus. But I hope to be able to follow Ballet to some of the places it travels.

If you didn’t click through earlier, once again, you can view Ballett, a short film by Eivind Tolas here.

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Well, as millions of fans of pop music and schmaltz know, the Eurovision 2013 song contest has come and gone. The winning song went to Denmark. Hungary’s entry, “Kedvesem” (My Dear, or My Sweetheart) by singer/songwriter ByeAlex, came in 10th. While this may seem like disappointing news, there it also quite a sunny side to the story. Since the broadcast, the indie-sounding song  has entered pop charts across Europe. And it is sung in Hungarian. “Kedvesem” has been a top 20 hit in Lithuania, Estonia, and Sweden. In the all-important UK, it entered the top 200 on the strength of its Eurovision showing. This is a spectacular achievement for a song that is sung in Hungarian, a language largely incomprehensible to the world at large.

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ByeAlex is singer/songwriter Alex Márta, was born in the small town of Kisvárda in north-eastern Hungary near the Ukranian border. Though he sang from a young age, his university degree is actually in philosophy, from the University of Miskolc. What’s a young singing philosopher to do but enter the Hungarian version of “The Voice” and try his luck at a career as a songwriter. Indeed, based on his strong performance on the show, he was selected to represent Hungary at Malmö, Sweden in the 2013 contest.

Though tenth place is not exceptional by any means, it is the third highest place for a Hungarian musical act in their 11 tries at Eurovision. The highest placing song was by Frederika Bayer, who made it to fourth place in the first year Hungary participated in the contest back in 1994. ByeAlex’s numbers at home are much better. The song was a top ten hit, and over three million Hungarians tuned in to Eurovision to cheer them on. That is almost a third of the entire country. We guess it is time to welcome the singer/songwriter success, and say “HiAlex!”

Have a listen to “Kedvesem” here:

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tolonc3The history of film in Hungary is almost as long as the history of film itself. This is a nation that prides itself on its record of technical innovations and challenging narrative techniques. The country’s rich cinematic past will twine with its technology-savvy present when the reels of Michael Curtiz’s A Tolonc (The Undesirable) arrives at Budapest’s National Digital Archive and Film Institute, where it will be restored and digitally re-mastered.

The Undesirable is one of the many lost films of Hungary’s golden age of silent film, and represents one of the first directorial efforts from Michael Curtiz, who went on to achieve international fame as the director of such films as Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, and The Jazz Singer. His hundred-year-old silent film was discovered in the basement of the Hungarian House, a cultural center in New York City. How it got there is still unknown, but great efforts have been made to return the film to its homeland. The undertaking of returning and restoring the film, at the cost of close to 50,000 Euro, will be funded by the Hungarian National Film Foundation, overseen by Terminator and Rambo producer, and HNFF head honcho, Andrew Vajna.

toloncCurtiz, born Manó Kaminer Kertész, shot the film in 1914 in the then Hungarian-ruled city of Kolozsvár, (now better known as Cluj-Napoca, Romania). Shooting for the film was completed in the summer before the outbreak of WWI. There is evidence that the film was shown in the United States in the 1920s. This would make it one of Hungary’s first releases into the US market.

By this time next year, you can expect to see the re-mastered version of A Tolonc posted on You Tube, and – if all goes well – there will be a theatrical showing in Budapest to celebrate the film’s 100 year anniversary. It will be a fine homecoming for a film that spent so long abroad. What a difference a century makes.

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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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Budapest continues its streak as the go-to place to shoot epic films. Hot off the heals of two of the largest high-profile films in recent years, Die Hard V and World War Z, the production for big-budget action film Hercules has arrived to take advantage of the city’s dynamic locations and world-class production facilities.

The most recent riff on the Hercules myth stars Wayne Johnson, formerly known by his World Wrestling Federation moniker, The Rock. What does the star think of filming here? He wrote on Twitter, “A pleasure being in Budapest…Beautiful city & people. Months of training for the role. Lets shoot.. HERCULES.” The film is being directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X Men), who tweeted the picture below from his digs on the Pest side of the Chain Bridge. If reports are true, this will be his view for the next four and a half months, which is the length of the shoot.

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Photo by Brett Ratner

Ratner seems quite comfortable in Budapest and is making friends fast, as this snap with his new buddy Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shows. How is that sending out the welcome wagon?

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Photo copyright Brett Ratner

Taken from the popular graphic novel Hercules: The Tracian Wars, the hero Hercules is less mythic and more human in this version. He is portrayed as a mercenary who, along with his band of warriors  (including actors Rufus Sewell and Joseph Fiennes) must train an army for war and live up to his reputation as the son of Zeus. The last memorable incarnation of Hercules was, co-incidentally, portrayed by one-time Budapest regular Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film Hercules in New York.

Budapest continues its super-heroic reign as the most versatile city in Europe, where filmmakers can make movies big and small. Even Wayne Johnson says so. And you don’t want to argue with The Rock, do you?

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More pics from Brett Ratner of his time in Budapest, and of by-gone shoots, can be found on his tumblr account here.

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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