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Hungarian Press Roundup: Film Academy Awarding István Szabó Causes Uproar

Hungary Today 2020.02.07.

A conservative historian finds it nauseating that the Hungarian Film Academy, funded by the state, decided to award the Oscar winner film director István Szabó, who as an informer actively helped the Communist secret police in the late 1950s.

Hungarian press roundup by budapost.eu

Background information: on her Facebook page, House of Terror Director Mária Schmidt asked Miklós Kásler Minister of Human Resources and other government officials to intervene and prevent the Hungarian Film Academy rewarding the first Hungarian Oscar winning director István Szabó for his lifetime achievement. Schmidt recalls that István Szabó served as an informer of the Communist secret services between 1957 and 1961. During that time, he submitted 48 written reports and met his supervisors once every two weeks to deliver information against his colleagues. Schmidt hopes that the Hungarian government does not intend to cherish the heritage of the Communist secret services.

On Városi Kurír, Norbert Kinyó believes that Szabó’s ‘unfortunate role’ in the late fifties didn’t contribute to communist retribution after the 1956 revolution. In addition, his oeuvre, which includes a series of films on the relations between citizens and political power, proves that the artist has spent the past five decades facing his own misdeeds. The left-liberal author thinks the first Hungarian who won an Oscar for a feature film deserves a special award for the work of a lifetime.

Magyar Nemzet’s György Pilhál, on the other hand, fully agrees with Mária Schmidt. There were other film directors who could never shoot a film, he writes, perhaps because they refused to co-operate with the political police. Pilhál wonders if Szabó will ‘dare’ to accept his award.