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Archive for November, 2014

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There seems to be much talk of an Avengers’ spin-off movie for Scarlett Johannson’s character Black Widow, centering around a mysterious incident in Budapest. This is all still up in the air, be we can at least confirm that one incident in Budapest regarding the star; one which had nothing to do with superheroes, though it was fact was one of the star’s first major roles.

The American-produced drama An American Rhapsody came out in 2001, much of it shot here in Budapest. One of our favorite stills of a Budapest bridge is the one below with a young Ms. Johannson dreamily walking across it. This is, of course, Budapest’s famous Chain Bridge, one of the most popular tourist destinations and film locations in the city. Somehow these two icons just pit perfectly together.

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An American Rhapsody is one of those rare Hollywood movies that utilizes Budapest as Budapest, rather than as a stand in for another city. The film tells the story of a girl who has returned to Hungary from her life in America to discover the secrets of her family under Communism and discover who she really is. It is all based on the life of director/script writer Éva Gárdos, who, was left behind in Hungary when her parents escaped over the heavily armed Austrian/ Hungarian border. Eventually reunited with her parents in Canada, she returns to Budapest as a teenager to experience the country under Communist rule. Though the film has the character splitting her identities between California and Hungary, it is still very much the director’s own tale. “California is so different from Europe. Visually, I wanted these people to feel like they were on such a different planet,” Gárdos told the LA Times back in 2001, upon the film’s release. Though the film was shot in post-Communist Hungary, the Budapest of those gray days can still be felt in the scenery, only making the red-jacketed Scarlett Johannson stand out all the more. If she does indeed return for Budapest, the movie, even as the Black Widow, the city will only be brighter because of it.

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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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Nestled into the very center of Budapest’s Palace District, a stone’s throw from downtown, is one of the ctiy’s most charming, overlooked squares: Mikszáth Kálmán Square. Surrounded by cafes and restaurants, and a former high school, most of the square is lined with pre-WWII buildings. It feels typically Central European, if not slightly Germanic. It is not without reason scenes from Fateless – the film adaptation of Nobel Prize Hungarian author Imre Kertész’s semi-autobiographical novel about the Holocaust – were filmed on the cobblestone street Krúdy Gyula, which runs along Mikszáth Kálmán Square.

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Kálmán Mikszáth, the man the square was named after, was a writer, publisher, and politician. He lived in the 19th century, and was a law school dropout. His novels were some of the most popular Hungarian literature of the era. Legend has it that Theodore Roosevelt was a fan of his book St. Peter’s Umbrella, and in fact personally visited Mikszáth Kálmán during the American president’s European tour in 1910. The writer authored thirteen other books; he was a member to the Liberal Party, and died in 1910. The distinctive stature erected to him, which accentuates his belly and trademark moustache, was created by András Kocsis, and gazes out authoritatively on the square. Historical looking, with real history behind it, Mikszáth Kálmán Square is a gem waiting to be discovered.

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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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For the most part, only highly astute, discerning of wine lovers outside of Hungary can name traditional, native Hungarian varietals, or can identify a Hungarian wine beyond the formerly state-controlled, mass-produced Bikavér (Bull’s Blood). True, the dessert wines of Tokay have made inroads with hardcore wine enthusiasts abroad, even though their appearance on international wine lists is still rare. But a group of diverse wine producers and Hungarian wine champions are trying to change that by introducing the Furmint dry wines to America on a broad scale, via promotional and educational programs.

FurmintUSA, as the group is called, is headed by Balázs Humayer. He is a man with wine in his blood, as one of his distant ancestors is Count Agoston Haraszthy, the Hungarian immigrant credited with pioneering the wine industry in California, and introducing the Zinfandel varietal to the region. As the sweet Furmints already have somewhat of a reputation, FurmintUSA will primarily push the dry variety, using a series of tastings, video blog posts, and social media, and via their web-site http://www.furmintusa.com. According to FurmintUSA, in wine-speak: “Furmint is a leading Hungarian white grape variety that is indigenous to Hungary’s Tokaj region. It has always been one of this region’s most widespread cultivars, now being predominant with over seventy per cent of all plantings. It grows vigorously, ripens late and produces powerful but fine acidity, as well as readily picking up minerality and beautifully expressing the terroir it has so perfectly adapted to over the centuries.” There, now you know!

Below, you can find Joe Roberts of 1winedude.com, hosting the first of the videos. He also hosted their recent Sonoma Valley, California, Furmint tasting, which, we trust, went well, leaving American wine enthusiasts besotted with Hungarian wine’s great white hope.

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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While the Best Animated Short may not be the most hyped or tracked category of the upcoming 2015 Oscars, it is closely watched by talent scouts and film insiders looking for the next big thing. Each year the five nominees are chosen from a short-list, which is shaved down from this year’s long list. It is an encouraging indicator that the site cartoonbrew.com has tipped two Hungarian animated shorts as likely nominees. Of course only time will tell, and nobody would call the Academy’s past choices predicable, but with the solid film festival pedigrees of the two shorts: “Symphony No. 42,” directed by Réka Bucsi, and “Rabbit and Deer” by Péter Vácz, and a good amount of acclaim heaped on both, it is likely that we will see at least one make it to the long list, if not farther.

We did a post on Bucsi and her work not long ago, which you can find here. As for Vácz, the animation director’s “Rabbit and Deer,” which – according to his site – is about “The friendship of Rabbit and Deer is put to the test by Deer’s new obsession to find the formula for the 3rd dimension.” It has won over eighty honors including best animation awards at the Nashville and Atlanta film festivals. It also received a special mention in Cannes for the Lions at the Young Directors Award, won Best Script at the Anima Mundi festival and the Junior Jury Award in Annency. Born in just 1988, this is a huge achievement for somebody so young. To have a look at the teaser for “Rabbit and Deer,” see below.

Correct us if we are wrong, but it seems that a Hungarian has not won the Best Animated Short Oscar since 1974, when Budapest-born Peter Foldes took home the statue for his Canadian-produced short “Hunger.” It feels like the time is ripe, and the talent is certainly there, for another Hungarian triumph in this prestigious niche category.

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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