Bela Bunyik founder and director of the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles looks back at the 2014 festival


14th edition of Hungarian Film Festival, LA came to closing night on November 20th To look back at the 2014 festival we interviewed Bela Bunyik Founder and Director of the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles

Bijan Tehrani: Looking back at 2014  Hungarian Film Festival, Los Angeles are you happy with its outcome and did it meet your expectations?
Bela Bunyik: We are very happy.  The Festival was expanded this year because of the milestones with animation and remembrance of the Holocaust 
All in all the films were good and the documentaries were very well received along with the shorts before the films and the additional animation. It was a good Festival this year.

BT: Every year we witness new and great steps towards expanding and progress of the festival, how challenging has been taking this path?
BB: It is always a challenge, every year it is more challenging to bring in more and diverse audiences.
It is difficult to get a wide spectrum of media to take notice and help by writing about the festival.  We did have new and important sponsors this year which brought more attention to more people and that was the Universal Hilton Hotel, Shakespeare Vodka and Advantage Plus Caregivers.

BT: You and your wonderful wife had been carrying all the weight of  Hungarian Film Festival, Los Angeles on your shoulders for many years, has situation become any easier for you?
BB: Thank you for noticing…  We are still a little confused as to the lack of interest in volunteers, but we were told at the end of this festival that we should have no problems next year, as the few volunteers that helped out this year had fun and enjoyed themselves very much and have people they know who would love to help out.  Having the two beautiful Hungarian actresses Julia Ubrankovics and Tunde Skovrantus to introduce the films at the theater was fabulous.

BT: In 2014 you had some attention to the festival from Hungary, at the press conference of the festival there was a Hungarian TV crew, do you know if there will be any reports made abut the festival and how important is such a report for you?
BB:  The ATV reporter Kata Jaksy from Hungary did a very nice piece on the Festival.  We had interviews with the guest from Hungary and how they felt about their films being showed in Hollywood, and how happy they were to be able to join in this year, and then interviews with some of the audiences from various films who enjoy the chance to not only see these films but to actually interact with the actors, actresses Directors and writers….  especially people from the industry who attend to see foreign films.

These reports are very important because it helps bring more support from Hungary for future festivals.                       

BT: In 2014 we noticed a growing relationship between the festival and Hungarian consul general of Los Angeles, Please tell us about this matter and impact on it on the festival.
BB: During our festival history we have always had very good support from the Consul General’s.  They do believe that this is a very important cultural event and having co-production films at the festival always brings other countries Consuls to be involved and therefore more audience.

BT: Is this true that even you are promoting Hungarian films in LA, you still have to pay a fee to show the films in LA?
BB: YES! Unfortunately we run into the same problems that other foreign film festivals like the Polish, etc.  Many of the films are now in the hands of International Sales Agents.

BT: How did you start the Hungarian Documentary Film Festival and has it been as successful as the fiction films festival?
BB: The Documentary film festival was inherited from the former General Consul, Bokor Balazs, who asked me to continue it.  To help attract more attention to the event we put the two festivals side by side under the same roof.  Last year we put the two festivals in two different venues.  By putting them both at the same theater we generated more audience.

BT: How do you see the future of  Hungarian Film Festival, Los Angeles?
BB: We see a future of the Hungarian Film Festival because the films are getting better every year and the interest is always there.  Our hope is that we will be able to bring the festival to more locations.  It is hard to get people to travel far to see a film.  We have hopes that the new Laemmle Monica will bring in the West side people.  It would be a shame not have a future. It is a good festival, with a lot of talent.


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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