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Archive for July, 2013

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There is no shortage of Art Nouveau in Budapest. A walk around the center of the city reveals spectacular facades of pre-War architecture. Famed architect Ödön Lechner takes a lot of credit for the city’s most striking example of Art Nouveau, but he himself lived in a building designed by his two most prominent disciples, József and László Vágó.

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The brothers’ most prominant building is arguably the Árkád Bazár (the Arcade Bizarre) right up the street from Budapest’s famous Dohány Street Synagogue. The huge retail space on the ground floor was originally the city’s largest toy shop. The building survived WWII bombings; it was later used as a rock club, but fell into disrepair under Soviet communist rule. It was only recently renovated, and now houses a café. Much of the ceramic ornamentation, as with wrought-iron elevator cage, is original. In keeping with the toy motif, one can see toy soldiers, dolls, rocking horses decorating the edifice.

Another important example of the Vágó’s work is the Guttenberg Otthon Building in District Eight. Originally built to house the Budapest Book Printers and Type Casters Association, it was completed in 1907. In addition to offices, the Guttenberg Otthon housed retail spaces, apartments, and a café. In its courtyard, there was even a theatre. Much of the retail space has now been converted into apartments, and though the theater remains, it is dilapidated and unused. Still, in its day, the Guttenberg was a building so revered that not only did one of its architects reside there, but their master teacher, Ödön Lechner, also kept and apartment within its confines.

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Perhaps the most refined, and certainly the most famous of the designs the Vágó brothers left their imprint on is the Gresham Palace, which is now home to Budapest’s Four Seasons Hotel. This building – which follows the Successionist style, will be looked at in a future blog post, though as the photo reveals, it is easy to see why it is considered one of the gems of the Budapest city-scape.

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The Vágó brothers weren’t the most prolific of Hungarian architects, and their Jewish background made it increasingly difficult to work as World War II approached. Still their influence can be be felt around Budapest in their exquisite work.

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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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The 48th annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival was held this month in the Czech Republic. Over the years, the film festival has grown to be one of the most prestigious international film festivals around, up there with Berlin and Toronto. Which is one reason why it is so gratifying to report that the winner of this year’s main prize – The Crystal Globe – was the film A nagy füzet (“Le Grand Cahier”) directed by János Szász, a Hungarian director best known for his film Opium: Diary or a Madwoman, and his contribution to the Holocaust documentary Eyes of the Holocaust.

This is the first time a Hungarian film has won the first place award in Karlovy Vary. The film is an adaptation of writer Agota Kristof’s novel The Notebook (though the book was written in French, the writer is of Hungarian extraction). The story follows two boys who are taken in by their seemingly monstrous grandmother, who is able to keep them fed under the deprivations of World War II. The boys disassociate themselves from emotional things in order to survive their ordeal, keeping factual accounts of the lessons they learn in a notebook (the Hungarian title is faithful to the novel’s title.) The Hollywood Reporter called the film “beautifully conceived,” citing the Hungarian countryside as particularly well rendered in the film, and suggests that A nagy füzet will have international appeal due to the novel’s following and the World War II setting.

The film was partially funded with backing from the Hungarian Film Fund, overseen by producer Andrew Vajna, famous for his involvement in the Terminator, Rambo, and Die Hard franchises. It is the first film completed through the newly created fund, which should mean much celebration for those who championed its creation.

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter.

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puli1What’s that coming towards me? A mop with legs? A poodle with dreadlocks? No, what you are witnessing is the Puli, a Hungarian breed of sheepdog, and the next ‘it’ dog with trendy pet owners.

The Puli is nothing new to Hungarians, who brought the dog to the region over a thousand years ago to herd and guard livestock. Because the thick fur makes it hard to bite, Pulis could defend a flock of sheep against much larger predators, including wolves and bears. The thickness of the coat also makes them totally water resistant; these are animals that are suited for work on the great plains of central Hungary. Though the Puli’s coat will grow out in matted chords, good grooming from a young age will keep the chords trim and neat as they flow towards the ground. To avoid regular maintenance, some owners opt to trim the chords down to bristles, significantly reducing both the size and striking appearance of the animal.

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These days Puli’s are mostly household pets; though owners attest to their loyalty and protectiveness of their homes, traits which make for excellent guard dogs. The strange, intelligent beast has not gone unnoticed abroad. Pulis have won international dog shows, most notably, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (World Canine Organization), at which the Mexican-born Puli Cinko Duda Csebi took first place. In Butte, Montana, there is a stature erected to the Puli known as “The Auditor” a stray dog that was so resilient it was able to live in the contaminated atmosphere of an abandoned copper mine. Gavin Rosdale of the grunge band Bush published a picture of his Puli in an inset to the band’s album Sixteen Stone, and – more recently – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came to Hungary to get his Puli fix at the source, adding a second Puli to his collection. Now if only Slash would buy one, and confirm the adage that ‘pets look like their owners.’

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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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