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Hungarian Parliament Accepts New Film Law

25 November, 2011 - filmhu

The Hungarian Parliament approved the new Hungarian Film Law with a vote of 249 for and 102 against, which will provide an annual 4 billion HUF (cca. 13 million EUR) to the national film industry.

The previous film law, unanimously enacted in 2004, named the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation, a self-governmental body of the film industry, as the main supporter of the film culture in Hungary. The new law makes the recently founded National Film Fund (MNF) the centre of the supports. The MNF is owned by the state and its CEO is appointed by the government. The CEO appoints the five-member committee that awards grants. The MNF will concentrate on funding full-length feature films, documentaries and animation films.

The MNF budget will come primarily from the Six Lottery, as it receives 80% of its gambling tax from 1 January, an amount estimated to be around 4 billion HUF. The previous categories of automatic and structural supports in the film culture will be abolished. According to the Film Law, all production grants will be distributed selectively.

The Law says that cultural and generational diversity has to be emphasized by the MNF. This statement might be a reply to the concern of several film professionals who fear that the centralization of the supports and appointing the Hungarian-born American producer Andrew G. Vajna as the government commissioner of the film industry would lead to the demise of Hungarian art house films.

The Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation previously awarded the most prestigious veteran filmmakers with the title "Master of the Hungarian Motion Picture." The new Law establishes a new award called "Film Artist of the Nation" that will be given by the government. The change was necessary because the awarded filmmakers get a life-long allowance and some of the decision makers were not content with the list of the previously selected artists. They attacked especially Ferenc Grünwalsky, the previous president of the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation whose promotion was controversial in 2010.

The MNF stated in a press release that their main duty will be the operation of the new system; controlling the productions and the use of the supports; the international representation of the Hungarian films; and the distribution of films that are part of the national film property (mainly the films made before 1989) and of those films that are produced with the support of the MNF.

Directors and producers protested and showed their concerns about a provision that gives the MNF the right of the final cut in the supported films. Andrew G. Vajna responded in the press that they might change their support rules and only ask for this right if they support a project with more than 150 million HUF (500,000 EUR). The support code of the MNF has not been made public, therefore the filmmakers don't know yet what obligations they would have if their projects are supported.