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Archive for the ‘Hungarian Culture’ Category

We recently stumbled across this video love letter to Budapest, which is making the rounds on social media. What you will see is an attempt to show all of the city’s summer-time charms, from the now ‘iconic ruin’ pubs in the inner 7th District, to what has been deemed the best summer music festival in Europe, the Sziget Festival. In the video, narrated by “Mike” (who we suspect is a local with a great accent) we get taken on a whimsical, and professionally filmed video of ideal film locations in Budapest, places like Parliament and the Szent István Bazilika (Saint Stephen’s Basilica, the grandest and oldest church in Budapest). True, this is all well-covered territory, but one never tires of new perspectives on old favorites like Széchenyi Baths and the Dohányi Street Synagogue. Along the way, even seasoned Budapest fans might learn a thing or two. For instance: Want to know how Queen’s Freddie Mercury expressed his love for the city? Watch and learn. For that reason alone: thank you, Thank You Budapest!

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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In addition to being one of the warmer weekends on record (forget about any notions of a gray, dreary eastern Europe, there was nothing but vibrant heat and sporting excitement this July), Hungary saw the completion of the 2015 Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix, known as Hungaroring. Racing fans from all over the world flocked to Budapest to watch Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel take home first place. Red Bull’s 21-year-old Daniil Kvyat came in second while his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo took third.

Hungaroriing

Hungaroring (official site here) opened in 1986, making it one of the more modern tracks on the Formula 1 circuit. It also has one of the most challenging designs, calling on drivers’ cornering ability, with its sharp curves, though some drivers complain it is too difficult to overtake with so few straights.

hungaroring

The official Hungaroring describes the site as: “Classical. This is what it has become over the past years, the race track of Hungaroring. It was built almost three decades ago as a rarity of its time, for being the first one beyond the Iron Curtain, and now it is still special as the third behind Monte-Carlo and Monza to have continuously featured in the F1 race calendar.”

Zsolt Gyulay, president CEO of Hungaroring, adds: “The valley, the environment is beautiful and the proximity of the capital is a great attraction really to everyone.”

hungaroring

Just because the Grand Prix takes place in summer doesn’t mean the track is deserted in spring: locals are permitted to drag race monthly; you might even see a souped-up Trabant. Located in a valley, around 80 percent course is visible from most points, making it a striking and exciting location for spectators and film-makers alike.

The town Mogyoród, where the Hungaroring takes place, is just 11 miles from Budapest, making it an ideal day trip, and easily accessible. If you happen to be in a Formula 1 race car,  which can travel at speeds up to 250 mph, it should only take a few minutes to get there.

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 local blogosphere was set a-twitter in the last few weeks as two international heavyweights of the culinary world visited and reported on their discoveries in and around Budapest. With four Michelin-star restaurants, Hungary has earned more of that top honor than any other country of the former Soviet Bloc, putting it in the spotlight for adventurous eaters, and turning it into a surprise high-end culinary destination.

anthony bourdain budapest

Anthony Bourdain, who is perhaps the most recognizable television personality covering international locations, made a stop in Budapest for his CNN series Parts Unknown (the full episode is embedded below). He was soon followed by top UK food critic, Elite Traveler Magazine writer Andy Hayler, who covered several of Hungary’s fine dining restaurants.

Bourdain – who is known for his adventourous eating habits (cobra heart, anybody?) played it somewhat safe in Budapest, keeping to the gilded confines of the tourist favorite New York Café for Hungarian goose liver, though he did venture out for a more local experience at an étkezde (lunch canteen), for a chicken liver crepe with bone marrow gravy, followed by a schnitzel big enough to swaddle a baby in.

Anthony Bourdain schnitzel

via @Bourdain/ Twitter

A stop to a butcher’s for sausage, which the personality got his mouth around more capably than the difficult Hungarian-language pronunciation, and it was off for a relaxing with a dip in fabled Gellért Baths with Academy Award winning legend of cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond. Bourdain came away from Budapest proclaiming his experience ‘deeply delicious’.

New York Café Budapest

New York Café via Wikipedia

Gellért Baths

Gellért Baths via Wikipedia

Hayler, perhaps less adventurously, stuck to high-end dining in Hungary, reviewing restaurants Ikon, Borkonyha, Olimpia, and Four Seasons Hotel eatery Kollázs. Hayer has the distinction of having eaten at ‘every three-star Micheleon restaurant in the world,’ which is fair to say makes him an authority on good food.

Calling Budapest ‘seriously elegant’ Hayler seemed most impressed with the country’s wine, citing Hungarian winery’s Szepsy 6 Puttnyos Furmit as the highlight of the trip. Each restaurant experience received praise for food and service, though Borkonyha (see our post on the restaurant here) fared best. No surprise there, if you like wine the ‘Wine Kitchen’ is the place to be, offering the best Hungarian wines along side Michelin star quality food. Hayler summed it up as such: “Overall I enjoyed the meal tonight, the food quite inventive, the wines excellent and the atmosphere relaxed.”

Fine Dining Budapest

Borkonyha in Budapest

Borkonyha via Lonely Planet

Long gone are the days when fine dining in Budapest meant a trip to Gundel or Vienna. Pull up a chair at the big table: with the likes of Bourdain and Hayler, you’re in good company.

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 Soundmap from Tamas Liszka on Vimeo.

The video above is something totally singular. On this blog we usually concentrate on the visuals around Budapest, without giving much thought to the audio delights, annoyances, and curiosities that are unique to the city. Good thing sound designer Tamas Liszka, a media-arts professional who studied at Budapest’s  Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, took an interest, and created the very first Budapest Soundmap. In the video, you can see a hand touching the map at various locations around Buda and Pest, and discovering the audio experiences to be had there. Many are very familiar to inhabitants of the city, for better or worse. Either way, its a fascinating experiment in challenging our perception of a place we thought we knew.

If you haven’t spent any time in Budapest, below area a series of pictures that correspond to some of the sounds in the video. Can you match them?

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

via Budapest-card.com

via Budapest-card.com

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

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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Making the rounds on local social media as of late is this elegant and moving tribute to the 1956 Uprising in Hungary, where a largely spontaneous attempt to forcibly unseat the Soviet-imposed government was brutally put down. Here we have Oscar winner and film royalty Dame Judi Dench reading the poem “We Cannot Know” by Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti. Radnóti – one of Hungary’s most-loved and canonized poets from the last century – was a Hungarian Jew who was killed in the Holocaust on a forced march across the country. He was buried in a mass grave, and later exhumed, precipitating the discovery of a notebook in his coat pocket that contained his last and most famous verse, entitled, depending on the edition, Cloudy, Frothy, or Foamy Sky. “We Cannot Know” was one of the poems in that recovered volume.

This ode to his homeland shows why Radnóti, along with the poets of his generation, is being rediscovered by audiences worldwide. What precipitated the recording of this 1978 video appears lost to the ages, but we are grateful for its existence. And if you are feeling adventurous, or just want to hear what the poem sounds like in Hungarian, we included that version as well. You’re welcome.


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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All the world loves a list. We particularly love lists when Budapest is featured on them. Here, from Bored Panda, the favorite website of time-wasters and procrastinators, we find a list where Budapest gets not one, but two mentions. No surprise for us, it’s a list of the most beautiful movie theaters in the world, where we can claim both the third and sixth spot, with the Urania National Theater, and the Puskin Theater respectively.

https://ppmhungary.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/urania3.jpg?w=500

In fairness to the Urania, it is actually the first theater on Panda’s list that doesn’t feature novelty seating (first place sees beds used as seats, second place, cars). We wrote some on the Urania in an earlier post, so we hope you don’t mind if we quote ourselves: “The history of Hungarian film is almost as old as film itself. Since Adolf Zukor Michael Curtis, and William Fox left Hungary to help build studios and make classic movies in California, the country has remained a fertile ground for innovators and trail-blazers on the international film scene. It is only fitting that one of the grandest, most elegant movie theaters on the planet is situated in the heart of Budapest.

https://ppmhungary.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/urania2.jpg?w=500

The Urania stands as a functioning monument to the great artistic achievements of film and a tribute to audiences who still like to enjoy cinema in a proper movie theater. The structure housing the Urania was constructed in the 1880s. Its original purpose was actually not film related: nickelodeons had yet to even debut at that point in history. The Urania was what is known as an ‘Orpheum’, which is a kind of cabaret/dance hall. Right before the turn of the century, it was refitted to be a movie theater, in order to first host a Hungarian Scientific Society’s presentation, and then later to accommodate the rush of interest in this new crowd-pleasing medium.” Currently, it is the theater of choice for film festivals and movie premiers.

The Pushkin is smaller than the Urania, but still elegant and painstakingly preserved. When it opened in 1926, it was then the largest cinema in Europe. Though it has passed hands many times, the splendor of the main theater has been kept intact, with the original gilded ornamentation of sculpture Sándor Kristián having created a regal, majestic atmosphere for film-goers. Perhaps the attention to the opulent ornamentation is due to the fact that the Pushkin was originally a casino before being converted. Like the Urania, it bucks the trend towards blockbuster films, and serves primarily as an art-house cinema for Hungarian and foreign films alike.

pushkin

So stop by Budapest; it’s a film lovers’ city, for those who make them but also for those who just enjoy them. Here you will find two of the most beautiful cinemas in the world. We know, because lists don’t lie.

pushkin2

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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Watching this short film, a travelogue shot in the 1930s in Budapest, one realizes the truth behind the cliché the more things change, the more they stay the same. The video could have easily been shot today but for the black and white film and the dress of the city’s denizens. Here we are, almost a century later, and if you walk around town you can still see most of the primary sites featured in this pre-World War Two film: Gresham Palace (now a Four Seasons Hotel), Parliament, the Chain Bridge, the Széchenyi Bath House, and the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy – all unchanged but for some rehabilitation.

The Screen Traveler: Gay and Beautiful Budapest was shot from the innocent lens of the 1930s. Created by American travel film-maker Andre De La Varre, the clip does capture a few peculiarities that we are not likely to see again: a pond front and center of Heroes’ Square, an all-white uniformed officer directing traffic like a human traffic light, and Vaci Street without a single McDonald’s or Starbucks.

In this film you can really see why Budapest is the go-to backdrop for historical films and period pieces, including Bel Ami, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Evita, as it is at once dynamic yet unchanging. So take a trip back in time with this unique film travelogue. We’ll meet you in 1930.

 

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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