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Hungarian Titanic Carried Its Heavy Cargo for the 15th Time

BUDAPEST – The Titanic International Film Festival, Hungary’s second biggest annual film event, reached its far-off destination for the 15th time this year between 3-13 April, 2008. Despite the ominous name of the festival, maritime conditions were superb and the festival turned out to be a huge success.

The festival has gone through several changes since last year and organizers made an effort to make it even bigger and better than before. A brand new website was created for the filmfest with a sophisticated, ‘pimped-out’ design. The short film used for advertising the event was made especially for this purpose and the attentive viewer could easily make out some familiar scenes in it of movies such as “King Kong”, “Jurassic Park”, and “Godzilla” while listening to its catchy tunes.

The number of features showcased this April has grown and one of the main objectives of the festival was to provide viewers with a much bigger variety regarding the films to be seen. The festival organizer, ‘Captain on board’, György Horváth claims that they did not want to have Discovery Channel-like films. Instead, they strived to have movies depicting the genuine ways of how people live today in different parts of the world by showing films from Uruguay, Guatemala, and Kazakhstan among the many nationalities.

2008 could very well be the most auspicious year in the history of the Hungarian Titanic. Many records have been broken; most of the numbers of the previous years have been surpassed. There were 120 public screenings and a total number of 15, 000 people attended the festival. Apparently, the number ‘120’ proved to be too little, as there was a need for 7 extra screenings. The event, which originally started out with only 16 movies to be screened in the fall of 1993, has grown a great deal over time and this year the passionate movie-goers had the possibility of watching 65 features from 35 different countries in only 11 days.

The competition line-up included 8 features from which an international 3-member jury was to choose the winner. The impressive selection included Danish, American, French, Japanese, Swedish, Mexican, Russian, and Icelandic features and five of the directors have been present throughout the festival. Jeff Nichols with his movie “Shotgun Stories”, Aszlan Galaszov with “The Swallows Have Arrived”, French director Serge Bozon accompanying his movie “La France”, Tomas Alfredson bringing a real Swedish horror story “Let the Right One in”, and last but not least Francisco Franco-Alba with the Mexican “Burn the Bridges”.

The jury, seeking a film having “remarkable characters, message, national flare, original approach, and characteristic visuality” as festival organizers say, had a hard time deciding, they said because the 8 movies were all of very high standard. The three members were Grainne Humphreys -director of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival-, Marek Dobes -Czech film director-, and Kornél Mundruczó –Hungarian film director-.

Sunday night has finally arrived, though, and at last the result has been revealed at the closing award ceremony. The movie deemed the best was Icelandic Baltasar Kormákur’s “Jar City” (Mýrin), becoming the proud owner of the €10,000 “Breaking Waves Award”. His name might ring a bell as the 2000-made, award-winning “101 Reykjavik” can be tied to his name, too. His new film is an adaptation of Arnaldur Indridason's crime novel “Tainted Blood/Jar City”, telling a gloomy story of an Icelandic detective on mission.

Two other awards have been handed out throughout the night and it seems like at this year’s festival the Nordic features made the biggest waves under the ship. The first award was that of the Hungarian Student Jury’s award going to one of the features in competition, “Just Another Love Story” by Danish Ole Bornedal. Finally, the feature declared most popular among the audience out of all the films screened at Titanic was the musical documentary “Sigur Rós: Heima” by Dean DeBlois, which is about the famous Icelandic post-rock band.

Two other movies worth mentioning were that of the opening and closing films – after the welcoming words of the captain on board the screening of “3:10 to Yuma”, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, took place. At the closing award ceremony attendants had the pleasure to watch Martin McDonagh’s 2008-made “In Bruges”, with the superb acting of Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson. This movie turned out to be a real ‘delicacy’ for movie fans, as it was the opening film of the Sundance Film Festival’s award ceremony and it was only the second time ever to be screened at a European film festival.

This year’s Titanic has shown that after all, history does not always have to repeat itself. The now fifteen-year-old Titanic turned out to be completely sea-proof, ready to take off again and sail to new destinations next year.
by Brigitta Bokor

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