Hungarian film heads to Shanghai fest
'Czukor Show' receives world premiere during eventSHANGHAI -- "Czukor Show," a Hungarian tragedy lands at the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival, opening Saturday, as one the few world premiere competition films at an event beginning to punch above its weight as organizers aspire to global status.
Traveling to Shanghai for the first time, producer Ferenc Pusztai said he's hopeful writer-director Tamás Dömötör's 450,000 euro ($539,000) drama about the power of television to reveal and amplify society's dark secrets, will resonate with Chinese audiences.
"We believe this film's topic is close to China's heart," said Pusztai, who got 5,000 euros from the European Film Promotion to travel to the largest city in a country where the government closely monitors TV programming for what censors consider inappropriate.
"Czukor" -- about a love triangle that ends in suicide, and the Hungarian talk show that revealed the tragedy -- is inspired by a true story that first was dramatized on the stage in 2007. The film develops into a "critique of Hungary's television-fed society," the producers' promotional materials say.
Looking unfavorably on media revealing China's social ills, this week authorities pressured broadcasters to drop a popular TV dating show contestant after she made remarks that were deemed to glamorize wealth and shun the poor.
"Czukor" will first screen in Shanghai for the SIFF Jin Jue ("Golden Goblet") award on Monday, June 14, with actors Atilla Árpa and Kata Péter in attendance with the director. Regardless of the competition results, its topic has little precedent of getting censors' approval for broad Chinese release.
"Czukor" is a co-production between KMH Film and Dropout Films of Hungary and Anagram Produktion of Sweden. It took 250,000 euros of support from the state-run Hungarian Film Fund, Pusztai said.
Pusztai, of KMH, made his last festival outing with director Ágnes Kocsis' "Pál Adrienn" in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in May, which resulted in a sale to South Korea. Of his trip to SIFF, Pusztai said: "We were aiming for an A-category film festival and Shanghai was the first one to extend an invitation."
KMH brings English-language promotion materials to SIFFMART, June 14-16, and is counting on SIFF organizers for the Chinese subtitles at the film's festival screenings, which run through June 20. "It's tough to find a Chinese translator in Hungary," Pusztai said.
This despite his observation that Budapest in recent years has become a huge trans-shipment hub for Chinese goods of all kinds headed to market in Europe.
"Chinese have lots of warehouses and inventory in Hungary. We see lots of Chinese films on TV and in festivals, but not yet in the cinemas," Pusztai said.
The arrival of more Chinese-themed films in Hungary is heralded by the recent completion of "Children of the Green Dragon," by writer-director Bence Miklauzic. Although it wasn't a co-production (an effort Miklauzic said failed), the film's protagonist is a Chinese man living in Hungary.
Due to a reorganization at the government's film fund and severe national economic troubles, Hungarian filmmakers are looking for more co-productions.
Hungary has official film treaties with Canada, Ireland and Austria and does a lot of films as unofficial co-productions with foreign investment, Pusztai said, noting that the new chairman of the Hungarian Film Fund would not make it to SIFF this time around.
"The film board has to change its attitude to filmmakers and what we do," Pusztai said.