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Scandinavia Around the World: Hungary

It’s been a while that Nordic / Scandinavian culture first became popular in Hungary, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s about films, music or literature, Hungarians have a huge passion for almost everything that comes from the Nordic / Scandinavian countries.

There are several institutions and organisations whose aim is to promote different segments of Nordic / Scandinavian culture. For instance, the Nordic House Foundation, which was established in autumn 2002 by some Scandinavians living in Hungary and some Hungarians who have special interest for Scandinavia, often organises events. They have a film club every other week, for instance.

However, this time I would like to draw attention to a Hungarian film distributing company called Vertigo Media Ltd due to the fact that they frequently present Scandinavian / Nordic films among others. The company was established in 2010. I have interviewed Balázs Berta, the Head of Distribution, to gain some insight into their work as well as to find out why Scandinavian / Nordic films are so popular in Hungary.

You usually have Nordic / Scandinavian films among your distributed films. Is it a result of a conscious decision?

Yes, absolutely. We think that Scandinavian films are those films that provide good quality permanently, and what is more, the Hungarian audience is eager to see them. It is interesting to observe how diverse Scandinavian cinema is; they produce not just crime such as thrillers successfully, but also black comedies, dramas and comedies.

How do you select the films?

Screenings at festivals and the feedback given there are highly important to us. We also monitor the best-seller adaptations, but there are some Scandinavian actors, actresses and creators whom we trust by all means such as Nikolaj Arcel or Mads Mikkelsen. I could mention Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg or Hans Petter Moland as well.

How many percent of your distributed films comes from Scandinavia approximately?

It is true that we are trying to present all the most significant films in the Hungarian cinemas but this number changes year by year depending on the number of films made yearly. We have presented six films this year so far, and we had nine motion pictures last year.

The Titanic International Film Festival also shows quite many Nordic / Scandinavian films every year. Where do you think their success derives from?

As I have mentioned above, the audience is surely grateful for the high-quality film-making. Moreover, Scandinavian film-makers come up with very unique stories, their scripts are very tight, and especially their crime stories are quite unpredictable. The Hungarian audience that is eager to see humorous stories appreciates Scandinavian black comedies. Not to mention that an excellent cast assists the directors in their work.

But is it worth screening Nordic / Scandinavian films in Hungary?

It would be an exaggeration to say that all films without exceptions are financially profitable. However, this is part of our commitment, meaning that we also present smaller-scale films and stories, which we find precious and which earned some recognition at film festivals but might be not so appealing to the Hungarian audience. 

Which films have been the most popular among the viewers?

Last year The Hunt was an absolute hit. This year Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Volume I and II have been extremely successful, and many people have come to see Hans Petter Moland’s In Order of Disappearance. We have believed in the film very much but the reviews and the public reception have surpassed all our expectations – luckily.

Which films are we going to see this year or perhaps next year?

It is sure that we are going to present the latest story of the Department Q, The Absent One. The Keeper of Lost Causes was a blockbuster in Denmark, and although in Hungary it was not such a big hit, we still hope for a more successful sequel. In addition to that, probably we will distribute the film A War, which are expected to be released at the end of 2015. It has been written and directed by Tobias Lindholm who is known for films like A Hijacking, The Hunt or Submarino and series like Borgen. Furthermore, we are in negotiation for other promising films so we might announce other titles later on.

CategoriesFeatures Issue 5
Barbara Majsa

Barbara is a journalist, editor and film critic. She usually does interviews with film-makers, artists, designers, and writes about cinema, design and books.