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Cultural Potpourri | The First Hungarian Film Festival in Davao

Davao’s cinemaphiles had a good introduction to Hungarian cinema when the Embassy of Hungary in cooperation with the Film Development Council of the Philippines and SM Lanang Premier presented the Davao edition of the 3rd Hungarian Film Festival (HUFF) in the Philippines last June 19, 2019. This was the first time that HUFF was held in Davao City. Welcoming the guests, which included Mindanao’s diplomatic corps, were H.E. Hungarian Ambassador Jozsef Bencze, the Hungary Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission David Ambrus, and of course, our beloved Honorary Consul of Hungary in Mindanao, Mary Ann Maceda-Montemayor.

H.E. Hungarian Ambassador Jozsef Bencze and Deputy Chief of Mission David Ambrus

The Hungarian Film Festival is already on its third year in Manila but is expanding to cover both the Visayas and Mindanao regions “to present the essence of Hungarian cinema to more and more Filipinos” as explained by Ambassador Bencze. The good Ambassador said, “The Hungarian Film Festival set its insights in Mindanao in order to fulfill its original goal to bring Hungarian cinemas closer to all Filipinos and not just the residents of the capital.” Although it is a week-long event in Manila, Davao and Cebu will have one-day screenings of the best Hungarian films from June to November of this year.

Hungary’s Honorary Consul in Mindanao Mary Ann Maceda-Montemayor with Ambassador Jozsef Bencze, Deputy Chief of Mission David Ambrus, Foreign Affairs Assist. Sec. Norman Garibay

At the HUFF launch at SM Cinema 6 last Wednesday, Hungarian director Gabor Herendi’s “Kincsem–Bet on Revenge” was screened. Director Herendi’s homegrown blockbuster is a lavish 19th century melodrama based on the true story of a legendary racehorse named Kincsem. This movie is Hungary’s most expensive local production to date and the biggest box office hit of the last 10 years. Kincsem was the most successful thoroughbred racehorse in history. The mare won all 54 of her races before she was retired in 1879. Even Budapest’s main horse racing track bears Kincsem’s name to date. The interesting two-hour long film is set against the backdrop of the 19th century political turmoil in Hungary complete with elements of love, revenge, relationships and sportsmanship which Filipino moviegoers could easily relate to. The lead actor, Nagy Ervin, a handsome and talented hunk, will definitely win the hearts of Pinays.

Representatives from the Indonesian General Consulate in Davao

According to Ambassador Bencze, the other films to be shown in Davao will include “Brazilok,” (Brazils), a surprise hit in the year 2017 in Hungary. The funny and entertaining film is about a gypsy football team named “Brazilok” which takes part in a village football championship game. The winning team’s prize is a trip to Rio de Janiero, Brazil. “Genezis” (2018) is a dramatic depiction of sin, catharsis and rebirth with biblical roots. The story is told through the journey of different individuals coming from completely varying sectors of society whose fates become intertwined in the midst of a terrible crime.

Davao’s cinemaphiles in attendance

“Moszkva Ter” (Moscow Square) is a film set in April of 1989 during the period which saw the collapse of Communist regimes in Europe. Four friends spend their evenings hanging around the clock tower in Moscow Square while all around them, the old regime is on its edge. Everyone knows that something is bound to happen; but the question is whether they make it happen or they just wait for whatever is going to happen. Lastly, the film “Tales from the Lakeside” is an animation film meant for the younger audience. Dubbed in English, Lakeside introduces a wonderful microcosm around a small lake where inspiring creatures defend their quiet corner of the world from outsiders.

Mindanao’s Consular Corps headed by Consuls Baby M. Montemayor and Joji I. Bian with the Ambassador of Hungary, Dr. Jozsef Bencze

The history of the Hungarian cinema dates back to 1896 when the first screening of the film by the Lumiere brothers was held; and the first Hungarian movie theater named Okonograph was opened to the public. By August 1911, more than a hundred movie theaters operated in Budapest. Oh yes, the Hungarian Ambassador pointed out to me that the history of the Hungarian cinema is older than that of the Philippines’ which is celebrating its 100th year this year.

(l-r): Betbet Pichon, Neneng R. de la Paz, Consul Joji I. Bian, Tisay Torres and Co.

For more information or updates on the film showing, please visit the Embassy of Hungary facebook page. Congratulations to H.E. Ambassador Jozsef Bencze, Deputy Chief of Mission David Ambrus and Hon. Hungarian Consul in Mindanao, Mary Ann Maceda-del Rosario. Thank you for sharing with us, Davaoenos, your interesting Hungarian films. And thank you, Ambassador Bencze, for the story on Hungarians in our midst since the turn of the 20th century that we know so little about. Oh yes, I love those Hungarian sausages definitely.

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