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Spotlight Shines On Hungarian Films At European Union Film Festival

Photo provided by Hungarian National Film Fund

The Hungarian films “Our Women” (Nejem, nõm, csajom) and “Aglaya” will be two of the many films showcased at the 17th annual European Union Film Festival in Chicago, during the month long festival in March, which focuses on only the finest films from countries in the European Union.

 In order to get more information on these films I interviewed Csaba Zoltán, who is in charge of public relations for the Hungarian National Film Fund, which submitted the movies to the festival.

 Zoltán tells me “Our Women was one of the most successful Hungarian films at the local box office in 2012.”  The film is the work of Péter Szajki, a young talent who has directed only one previous film, Intimate Headshot (Intim fejlövés) back in 2009. Featured in the cast of “Our Women” is Judit Schell, an actress American audiences might recognized from the 2005 Hungarian comedy “Just Sex and Nothing Else” (Csak szex és más semmi) a very funny movie which was featured at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2006. Szajki new film tells the story of four women and the sexual complications with arise in each of their relationships. The film explores this theme in both a comedic and dramatic style.

“Our Women” Zoltán adds has already been “recognized outside Hungary, winning the Jury Special Award at the Varna International Film Festival in Bulgaria.”


“Aglaya”, on the other hand, is a circus theme movie revolving around a mother and daughter directed by Krisztina Deák, who also directed “Who the Hell’s Bonnie and Clyde?” (A miskolci boniésklájd) which was released in America as well. “Aglaya” has also been met with critical acclaim around the world including Turkey where “at the Antalya IFF where it won the Best Film Award alongside the Turkish Film Critics’ Association Prize” Zoltán informs me and “was invited to a wide range of international film festivals across the globe.”

It is the hope of the Hungarian National Film Fund that these movies find American distribution at the European Union Film Festival since rights are still available in the U.S.

American audiences usually don’t get many opportunites to see Hungarian films, which is disappointing. Why aren’t more Hungarian movies distributed in America? I asked Zoltán about this and he feels “the American market is mostly dominated by American films. Europe is producing a lot of films a year, and US audiences are not familiar enough with European movie stars.” That may be true but in America we get plenty of films imported from France and Italy every year. So why not more Hungarian movies?

But this wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1960s and 1970s Hungarian films were being released often in America and received a lot of praise from critics. Many films directed by István Szabó, Károly Makk, Márta Mészáros and the late Miklós Jancsó were entertaining audiences.

Thanks to various film festivals interest in Hungarian cinema is starting to grow again, even in America. Every year at the European Union Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival Hungarian movies are featured. János Szász’s “The Notebook” (A nagy füzet) for example, received special mention at last year’s Chicago International Film Festival for the performance given by actress Piroska Molnár. It is a very powerful, intense movie dealing with the nature of violence. The movie will be released in America in the Fall, where I’m sure audiences will be very strongly affected by the movie.

And thanks must be given to the Hungarian National Film Fund, which since 2011 has had the mission “to subsidize the production of Hungarian films or co-productions that entertains moviegoers and bring significant success both domestically and on an international level.”

Audiences should be looking forward to see what new talents emerge in Hungarian cinema in the years to come. For now, at the European Union Film Festival, we will get to see two.

For more information on the festival click here for their website and showtimes. And for more information on the Hungarian National Film Fund click here.

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