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Evaluations of Hungary’s Oscar winning short film

March 6th, 2017
A pro-government pundit dismisses liberal interpretations which celebrate ‘Sing’ as a film depicting current Hungary as the scribblings of arrogant manipulators. His independent counterpart admits the merits of the new film sponsoring system introduced by the current government.

In his regular weekly Demokrata editorial, András Bencsik confesses his aversion to the story of ‘Sing’. It is about a school choir where the music teacher includes children whose voices she doesn’t deem good enough and asks them to imitate singing without uttering any sound. Children discover that several of them are being treated like this and revolt. Bencsik doesn’t understand why the music teacher would need people who are not good enough in the choir just to keep them silent and thus dismisses the end of the story with children revolting as childish. He especially condemns press comments which see the film as a representation of the current state of affairs in Hungary where a revolt would be the only solution. He says from a politically correct angle the teacher who seeks good singers for her choir is a despot and more generally, seeking quality is portrayed as equivalent to fascism.

In Heti Válasz, editor Gábor Borókai recalls that under communism, sports and movies were abundantly subsidised by the government because they were considered as vehicles of pro-regime propaganda. After the regime change both sports and the movies found themselves suddenly exposed to the market, with declining success rates as a result. The Orbán government put them under state control, putting government politicians in the leading posts of the sports federations, from wrestling to handball. They don’t have great expertise, unlike the new government commissioner for the film industry, Hungarian-American producer Andy Vajna whose system was fiercely opposed by filmmakers but has gradually produced world class results, including first prizes in Cannes, Berlin, Karlovy Vary and Hollywood.

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