Interview with the director of the festival, Zsolt Pozsgai

Starting a festival is a big job and a great pleasure. Where did the idea come from and why do you expect entries, especially from historical films?

Over the last ten years, I have had the privilege of attending many international film festivals as a film director, jury member or sometimes jury president. From India to Alaska, I have gathered experience and based on this I saw that it would be worthwhile to organise a new international film festival here in Hungary. My latest work, which I am very happy to say has won several awards at various festivals, is of historical importance. I noticed that there are few festivals with this theme. Yet filmmakers are interested in history, its periods, its exciting events – and audiences are happy to welcome them. In Hungary, too, there are few historical films being made, and perhaps this festival is an inspiration for Hungarian filmmakers. The further east we go from Hungary, the more filmmakers are interested in the history of their nation, or the history of the world. In Bulgaria, Poland, India, Japan and many other countries, even the cultural government supports this subject. And I was right, the first edition in 2020 has a lot of worthy films entered. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were only able to have an online festival at that time. But for the second edition in 2022, we could invite international and Hungarian filmmakers, as well as students from film schools.

By historical films we usually mean period films with lots of action and romance…

Yes, but you can see from our festival that we are aiming for more than that. For example, we have created an “Experimental” category, which means that we are looking for art films that don’t necessarily fit into the image of what we usually think of historical films. Or short films. There are very few short films of this kind, at least not that you can see. We particularly appreciate people who are studying film, university students, art students, to reach out to the younger generation. In all these endeavours, it is noticeable that we are mainly looking for modern films. Films that do not only depict a historical period or event, but also have something to say and a message for today’s audience.

Why did you choose the city of Pápa in Hungary?

In my career so far, I have noticed that when I have attended a festival in a relatively small city, the filmmakers I have invited have spent much more time together and made much more meaningful connections. Pápa is one of the most beautiful baroque cities in Hungary and was chosen for its historical atmosphere. Plus, everything is very close – you can walk along the main street to the Esterházy Castle, where the evening parties will be held. The hotels are also very close to each other. We’re going to rent a café, a kind of hangout, a meeting place. So the filmmakers can occupy the city for four days.

What do you need to know about the trophy?

Andrew László /1926-2011/, a world-famous cinematographer who has worked on many classic American films, was born in Pápa. The festival is dedicated to his memory and the trophy is a small bronze statue of him with a camera.

Other events outside the official programme?

There will be a zero day, where we will present a lifetime achievement award to a Hungarian artist in the evening and screen one of his films. I already know who the person is and which film it is, but for the time being it will remain a secret. What is really important is that the festival does not end with the screenings and the awards. On Monday we will give filmmakers the opportunity to meet with Hungarian film distribution professionals. The business of cinema and television distribution. We would like to see the films shown here being taken up for further screenings by Hungarian cinemas and television channels. But the co-production staff of the Hungarian Film Institute will also be present if a co-production project comes up.

What opportunities will the guests have to get to know Hungary?

We have arranged the programmes in such a way that there will be time for excursions. The nearby Balaton highlands have beautiful scenery. But Győr, one of the most beautiful baroque cities in Europe, is also close by. Moreover, if you want to stay a few days longer, relax and get to know the area better, we can offer you a significant hotel discount.

How many film guests are expected?

We can invite three filmmakers from each of the finalist films, who will be offered free accommodation and full board with a VIP card. But we also offer discounted accreditation to other filmmakers, Hungarian film professionals, journalists and visitors. The exact conditions for accreditation will be available on our website in due time. Of course, we will inform separately those filmmakers who make it to the final.

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we love films