03 May 2018

How Young Filmmakers see the World

This year, five young directors have been given the chance to make their debut feature thanks to the Incubator Program of the Hungarian National Film Fund.

The HNFF Incubator Program was launched in 2015 to support talented young directors who have not yet made their first feature or whose short films have not yet been screened at international film festivals. For the third Incubator Program 71 entries had arrived by the October 2017 deadline, of which 10 were selected for the pitch forum. The HNFF granted the 10 finalists EUR 6,400 each for script development, and with the collaboration of the fund’s development team they worked on their script for several months before the forum, which was held in March this year.

Five of the 10 projects have been given the chance to become the first feature of their talented young directors. Three were selected by a professional jury: director-screenwriters Márk Bodzsár and Károly Ujj Mészáros, film distribution specialist Zsuzsa Kálomista, producer Mónika Mécs and film historian Zsolt Pápai. The other two were selected by the audience, which was made up of directors, producers, film critics and filmmakers. The HNFF’s Incubator Program provides support for the production of these five selected films:a maximum of EUR 70,000 for each feature documentary, EUR 200,000 for each feature film and EUR 265,000 for each animation. 

Here is a short summary about each of the five winning projects. The first is 'Things Worth Weeping For' by Cristina Grosan and Nóra Rainer-Micsinyei. The story follows Maja, who wants to move to Berlin with her boyfriend. As she forgets her ID card at home she has to spend another night in Budapest, during which she is forced to face problems she never wanted to have to deal with. The film is about people in their 30s who try to meet serious grown-up expectations when their lives do not actually have much in common with typical adulthood; some of their friends are still living like teenagers. The film intends to examine this controversial state that is full of conflict, tension, self-righteousness and absurd situations.

'A Pack of our Town' by Hajni Kis

Hajni Kis’s biographically inspired film, ‘A Pack of our Town’, shows the complex relationship between a father and a daughter. Gyuri, an exconvict, works as a bouncer at a night bar. One day his ex-girlfriend shows up with their teenage daughter Niki and forces him to look after her while she is off working abroad. At the beginning the relationship between the two is filled with conflict, but they slowly manage to break down their barriers and grow closer to each other. When Niki’s mother returns, Gyuri realises that he never wants to leave his daughter again, and for that he is ready to take some radical steps. Of her film, Hajni Kis says that she believes this story could touch many people, because everyone has lived through some kind of similarly ambivalent bond.

The film by Bálint Nagy and Nándor Lőrincz, ‘The Last Bus’, discusses the subject of sexual abuse. Dénes and Nóra have spent years trying to adopt a baby, and now they are fi nally given the chance to become parents to an orphan. But one night Nóra is sexually abused by a stranger. The police cannot do anything as she is the only witness to the crime, and there is no further evidence to support her case. The couple faces the culture of victim-blaming, which also breaks the trust in their marriage. The directors have a personal connection to the topic, as a mutual friend of theirs has been through similar tribulations. They said that in their fi lm, however, violence itself will not be the focal point, but rather the way in which the couple’s immediate environment and the justice sector reacts to what happened.

'The Last Bus' by Bálint Nagy and Nándor Lőrincz

In Judit Oláh’s documentary ‘The Camp’, the director tells the story about one of the most decisive experiences of her own childhood: a summer camp during the declining socialism era. The three-week long thematic camp flew children to an imaginary country, Epipo, which was an antithesis of the outside world. The whole story revolves around Pál Sipos, the former leader of the camp, who had a tremendous impact on the children he was entrusted with. Several years later he was forced to flee the country because of his sins. The director and the former citizens of Epipo, who are now adults, try to figure out how the camp worked and who Pál Sipos really was, but they also address the subject of power.

Márton Szirmai’s project entitled ‘Where did I go Wrong?’ is an animated adventure film whose protagonist, László Kozma, is the managing director of an American-Hungarian factory. His logical outlook on life is shattered as, based on absurd charges, he is innocently sentenced to 15 years in prison. As Kozma tries to comprehend the incomprehensible, it dawns on him that his inner journey is just starting. Where did he go wrong? We get to know Kozma, the genius engineer. Memorable and graphic stories of his life come to life until, with the help of these, Kozma himself also works out the perfect plan of escape. He does not want to invent anything anymore. Inspired by the 800-page book by László Kozma, the director wanted to prove, through an unknown Hungarian man’s fate, that he could make an exciting, humorous and high-quality animated film – under modest conditions – about how power and history can easily break a person’s ambitions and opportunities.

'Where did I go Wrong?' by Márton Szirmai 

These five projects will have to be finished within the next two years, during which the young directors can call on the HNFF’s professional support. At the pitch forum Ágnes Havas, CEO of the HNFF, said that the growing number of applicants year after year is a clear sign of success. She added that the Incubator Program not only helps make debut films but it is also a great platform to build a community for young and talented filmmakers who reflect on the world, on the activities and on the events around them.

Zsófi Herczeg