An interview with Bela Bunyik Founder and Director of the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles about 2014 Festival


14th edition of Hungarian Film Festival, LA will run from November 14 to November 20 in Los Angeles. In order to learn about 2014 festival screenings and events we interviewed Bela Bunyik Founder and Director of the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles

Bijan Tehrani:  Please tell us about the growth of Hungarian Film Festival, Los Angeles over the last 14 years.
Bela Bunyik: We brought to the United States Robert Koltai’s film We never die. The success of this film which included an HBO acquisition and sell out houses at the Laemmle Theater (the venue for most of the Foreign Film Festival’s in Los Angeles) gave us the idea that Hungarian films would be accepted by American audiences.  Thus the beginning of the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles.  Our company My companies Bunyik Enterprises/Entertainment which was already  distributing Hungarian films in the US and Canada helped form the idea of the festival.  Our mission was to bring to the already American foreign film loving audience the best of Hungary’s feature films, documentaries, shorts, student and animation films along with being able to introduce some of Hungary’s artists.  Over the years we feel that we have done just that.  Our first festival was welcomed by Kevin Thomas, the Los Angeles Times film critic with great enthusiasm. The film Critic’s and the size of the audiences gave us an idea we were on the right track, but we did not expect to reach the 14th festival. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

BT:  What should we expect from 2014 Hungarian Film Festival, Los Angeles?
BB: We are opening this year Festival with “Coming out”, the most successful comedy of the year in Hungary. The star of the film, Sandor Csanyi is among our guests.   The re-known director and producer Peter Medak will receive our Lifetime Achievement award this year.  The festival will screen a wide and diverse range of Feature Films, Documentaries-feature, Shorts and the wonderful world of Animation.  Some of our screenings will cover the two events that we are spotlighting this year, one being the 100th Anniversary of Hungarian Animation with the  screening of “Son of the White Mare” by animation extraordinaire Marcell Jankovics, the other being the 70th Anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary.  Films being screened dealing with this subject are “The Last Mentsch,” “Carl Lutz – the forgotten hero,” “Hungarian Cube” and “Regina”

BT:  Are there any US premiers among the films screened at the festival?
Feature Films:
Coming Out
Heavenly Shift
Black Soup
Couch Surfing
What Ever Happened to Timi?

Feature Documentaries:
Hungarians For Barca
Stream of Love
Hungarian Cube

Winner of the Montréal World Film Festival 2014:
Bronze Zenith Award
First Fiction Film
The Ambassador to Bern

BT:  Are there any events besides screening of the films?
BB: There will be a Press Conference at the Consulate General of Hungary’s office that will include 10 visiting guest from Hungary and Germany. We will have the 14th Hungarian Film Festival Reception party where the Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to the renowned Film and Television Director and Producer Peter Medak, (we will be screening his film “The Ruling Class” which Peter O’Toole received a Oscar nomination for Best Actor)   The Alex Friedman Humanitarian Award and the Jury Selection awards will also be given out that evening.

BT:  Are there any filmmaker’s guests and actors and actresses attending the Hungarian Film Festival, Los Angeles?
BB: Director, Writer: Denes Orosz, Coming Out
Director: Imre Lorant Balazs, Leave/Stay  London
Director, Writer: Tibor Kocsis, Hungarians for Barca
Director: Peter Vacz, Rabbit & Deer
Director, Writer, Producer: Agota Varga, Spymaster
Director, Writer: Mark Bodzsar, Heavenly Shift
Actor: Sandor Csanyi, Coming Out
Actress: Franciska Farkas, Viktoria
Producer: Anita Elsani, The Last Mentsch
Writer and Film Critic for Variety: Alissa Simon

BT: Do you have a competition and giving away any awards?
BB: Giving out awards is always a special and gratifying part of the festival for me.  I find that people in the  industry welcome recognition, and  It is my pleasure to help give them that.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Medak.
Alex Friedman Humanitarian Award: “Carl Lutz – the forgotten hero
Audience Award: To be determined
Jury Selection Awards:  Best Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematographer, all to be determined 
Best First Film: To be determined

BT:  What are the venues of the festival and how international film fans can attend the festival? 
BB: Laemmle NoHo7  is today the theater for most of the International Film Festivals, the Polish Film Festival just finished their festival there.  The theater foreign film loving audiences during many many years have found their way to the theaters.  Our first festival started at the Music Hall, which at that time was considered the home to most Foreign Film Festivals.  All of our 13 previous festivals were held at the Laemmle theaters, The Music Hall, Sunset 5 and The Royal.
The easiest way to find our schedule of films  dates and times of screening is through our website: 

Laemmle NoHo7 
5240 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Feature Films $6.00   Most Documentaries, Shorts and Animation are Free
Check with Laemmle box-office

Hungarian House
United Magyar House
1975 West Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90018 USA
Free Screenings 
Check the United Hungarian House website

Hungarian Cultural Alliance  (Magtár)
920 S. Olive Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Free Screenings
Check the website

Bela Bunyik
President of Bunyik Enterprises Inc., and executive producer and managing director of Bunyik Entertainment.  Both companies were established in 1982 as film production and distribution companies of more than 900 foreign films across the United States and Canada.

Bunyik Entertainment is the US co-production partner in Hungarian feature films and documentaries including The Real Santa, Master and the Disciples, Green Card and others still in development.  Bela serves as the North American representative for the Hungarian National Film Fund and the Hungarian Producers Association  for world sales at the AFM and Cannes Film Festival markets for several Hungarian Independent companies.  He works to establish a bridge between Independent US production companies and Hungarian Independent producers

For years Bela has worked closely together with the Hungarian Consulate in Los Angeles to attract film productions to the new Hollywood standards Film Studios in Budapest; Origo, Korda, Stern Filmstudio and others that provid cutting edge post production facilities in Hungary.

Bela is also the Founder and Director of the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles. Headquarters: Woodland Hills, California U.S.A

This year celebrates the 14th Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles.  Bela has spent years giving an opportunity to Hungarian feature films, documentaries, short films and animation that otherwise may never be seen in the United States.  The festival embraces films that are also made in other counties with Hungarian talent. The festival has gained a significant diverse audience following. 

For the past years he has produced Academy Awards and Golden Globes campaigns for the Hungarian films in consideration of these awards.

Bela is responsible for recovering, restoring, and giving back his private collection to Hungary more than 25 35mm films that were thought lost.  He reintroduced over seventy classic Hungarian films along with introducing new and wonderful films, concerts, opera’s and operetta’s to the massive Hungarian communities, both old and young generations, across the United States and Canada. 

He received The Golden Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary for distinguished service to Hungary.

On A Personal Note:
I am from Budapest; I was 15 years old when I was in a movie about kids in Hungary. My favorite films is somewhere in Europe by Geza Radvanyi who I had the opportunity and great pleasure to know while I was studying in Munich Germany in the sixties. I have always been a movie buff, going to as many movies as possible.  I saw an opportunity to bring Hungarian films to America when VHS stores started to open up.  I purchased the rights to 6 films which eventually turned into over 900.   I am married over forty years to my life and business partner and have two daughters, one of them, Anna is a producer and Amalia is in college studying to be a nurse. I have two grandchildren which became a reason to get out of bed every morning, Phoebe and Benjamin.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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