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"Hungarian Contemporary Cinema": A Conversation Presented by Barnabás Tóth at the 20th FICM

Daniel G. Hernández

Thanks to the invaluable support and generosity of the Hungarian Embassy in Mexico, the 20th edition of the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM) held the colloquium "Hungarian contemporary cinema" in the presence of Barnabás Tóth, Hungarian director and actor, and Gábor Endrényi, Deputy Head of Mission, politics, press, education and culture at the Hungarian Embassy in Mexico.

Barnabás Tóth
Barnabás Tóth

The objective of this conversation was to talk about the positioning of Hungarian cinema worldwide, its relevance and different personalities who are important within the world of Hungarian cinema and who have had a greater presence worldwide. The opportunity was also used to speak with the director about his film Those Who Remained (2019), which screened at the festival.

To begin the colloquium, Barnabás Tóth talked about some directors and important people in the film industry, including William Fox, founder of the 20th Century Fox company, and Michael Curtiz, director of the film Casablanca (1942).

He touched upon the themes normally approached in Hungarian cinema, which include melancholic sad themes like misery or poverty, which has earned it the classification melancholic cinema; however, more relaxed and comedic films are created in Hungary for more domestic consumption, which is not exported.


Barnabás Tóth

The Hungarian director said that most of the financing of the films is received by the state, and while projects aren’t censored as such, the more critical they are, the less likely they are to be supported.

He added that nowadays they seek to portray topics that people can identify with, instead of more general topics that do not captivate audiences.

To close, Barnabás Tóth spoke a little about his film, which, in a word, he would describe as “emotional” because of the themes it addresses. The film, he added, is the adaptation of a novel by Zsuzsa Várkonyi, with which he sought to represent the effects of the holocaust on an individual level; showing how people can go on with their lives despite past atrocities.

On the other hand, it also aimed to show that two people, a 42-year-old man and a 16-year-old teenager in the movie’s case, can change each other’s lives in every way.

"When you make a movie, there are always two dangers: failure and success," said Barnabás Tóth.