Paying Homage to Hollywood’s Hungarian Roots at Origo Studios

Art

From left: Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Innovation Zsófia Nagy-Vargha; Balázs Bokor, president of the Hungarian Hollywood Council; and Márta Horváthné Fekszi, head of Origo Studios, at the inauguration of the “Wall of Hollywood’s Hungarian Roots.” It bears the names of almost 500 Hollywood personalities with Hungarian ancestry.

Photo by Péter Lakatos / MTI.

Origo Studios has unveiled a map that pays tribute to the Hungarian roots of the American movie industry, highlighting the birthplaces of Hollywood celebrities and their Hungarian ancestors.

The studio, where recent blockbusters such as “Poor Things” and “Dune: Part Two” were shot, invited the mayors of the towns featured on the map. Alongside studio moguls like Fox Film Corporation’s founder William Fox, born in the village of Tolcsva (238 km northeast of Budapest by road), the map, made by József Tóth, also features the towns where the ancestors of today’s Hollywood “A”-listers hail from. These include Tata (68 km west of the capital) in the case of the Oscar-winning Robert Downey Jr., or Tiszadob (203 km northeast) for “Breaking Bad” star Dean Norris.

The map also features towns formerly part of Greater Hungary, such as Homonna (today Hummené in Slovakia), where Paul Newman’s father was born.

Márta Horváthné Fekszi, the CEO of Origo Studios, noted the Hungarian film industry’s strong performance in recent years, highlighting the Academy Award won by set decorator Zsuzsa Mihalek for her work on “Poor Things.” She added that the studio has already ordered a new decorative star to display on the map at the studio, honoring her work.

“Back in the day, Hungarians went out to Hollywood, and now we’re saying that Hungarian filmmaking and Hungarian professionals have achieved so much in recent years that Hollywood is coming back to Hungary,” said Horváthné Fekszi, a state secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2006 and 2009.

Hungary and Hollywood

The event was also attended by Balázs Bokor, the president of the Hungarian Hollywood Council, who noted that “This gathering is perhaps the best example for the connections between Hungary and Hollywood can really unite us since most settlements feel a sense of mission towards caring for this unique heritage. And it’s a wonderful thing because we should rightfully be proud of these great people.”

Deputy Secretary of State for Youth Affairs Zsófia Nagy-Vargha also spoke at the event.

“Since 2010, the government has paid special attention to the film industry. One of the pillars of this supportive environment is that Hungary offers one of the highest tax rebates for film production in the world. But just as essential is the wonderful infrastructure and the excellently trained crew available for both foreign and domestic productions,” she noted.

In the last 10 years, the revenues of the Hungarian film industry have increased tenfold, she said, and by 2022, they had reached over HUF 200 billion.

“Budapest is the new film capital of Central Europe; it offers one of the highest tax breaks for film production in the world, it has a good infrastructure, a highly skilled professional staff, and since 2019, the spending of foreign productions in Hungary has tripled,” Nagy-Vargha added.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of April 8, 2024.

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