THE AMBASSADOR TO BERN.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hungary has long had an acclaimed film industry, and both contemporary cinema and classics from that country will be celebrated in the Hungarian Film Week at the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa Cinematheques from May 12-19.
The films that will be shown have subtitles in English and Hebrew.
Hungarian emigrés have had a huge impact on Hollywood, as some of the leading lights of the film industry there fled to the US on the eve of World War II and even earlier. Adolph Zukor, the founder of Paramount Pictures and one of the most influential American movie studios of all time, emigrated from Hungary to the US when he was very young. Other Hungarians, such as legendary producer Alexander Korda, who made such classics as The Third Man, starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, and Fire Over England, with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, made their mark on the British film industry after leaving their homeland. Emeric Pressburger, one of the leading British directors of all time, was a Hungarian Jew, born into a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is now Hungary.
One of the most influential emigrés was Michael Curtiz, who is best known for directing Casablanca, but who also made such classics as Angels with Dirty Faces, Mildred Pierce, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood and White Christmas. The new movie, Curtiz, directed by Tamas Yvan Topolánszky – who will be a guest of the festival – tells the complicated story of the making of Casablanca, considered by so many to be the greatest movie of all time. But the production was plagued by problems and disagreements between Curtiz and studio executives about the political emphasis of the movie. It also focuses on Curtiz’s troubled personal life, particularly his womanizing and his relationship with his daughter, who felt he abandoned her. The film, which will be shown in the presence of producer Claudia Sumeghy and actor Ferenc Lengyel, won the top prize at the Montreal World Film Festival.
Another highlight of the festival will be The Ambassador to Bern, which was directed by Attila Szász and will be shown in the presence of the screenwriter Norbert Kobli, and is a fictional account of the 1958 attack against the Hungarian Embassy in Bern. It is based on a true story about the two Hungarian dissidents who took hostages at the Hungarian Embassy in Switzerland, including the ambassador, and the tense standoff that followed. It’s an event that has been largely forgotten outside the two countries that were involved in it, but it’s a gripping story.
Demimonde, another collaboration between Szász and Kobli, is about three women – a famous prostitute, her housekeeper and their new maid – living in Budapest around 1910, whose passionate, bizarre and complex relationship leads to murder.
Géza Bereményi’s 1988 film Eldorado tells the story of a small-time hood who is the king of his neighborhood and must struggle to hold onto his power after the Communists take over.
Cat City, directed by Béla Ternovszky, is a feature-length animated film about a world where cats are gangsters who want to wipe out the mouse population. It’s a cult classic and is a clever satire about the human world, using animals to tell the story.
There will also be a screening of the animated film, Hoppi Tales by Ferenc Rófusz, as well as a screening of his famous animated films, including the Oscar-winning The Fly. Rófusz will be among the festival guests.
There will also be a seminar in the art of animation by teachers from the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, and the Holon Technology Center.
For schedule information and to purchase tickets, contact the individual cinematheques.
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