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Tamás Liszka

Producer on the Move 2010 – Hungary

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Tamás Liszka

Tamás Liszka studied philosophy and film theory in his hometown of Budapest. In 2003 he joined the entertainment group Szimpla and opened the company's first cinema and a standalone firm specifically dealing with film production and distribution.

How was SzimplaFilm founded and how did you develop your movie production activity?
Tamás Liszka: SzimplaFilm started eight years ago as the branch of cinephiles at Szimpla, a chain of youth clubs in Budapest. Our initial challenges included setting up a small cinema of our own, distributing little-known arthouse movies, and establishing Anilogue, a yearly animation festival. In 2004, SzimplaFilm made its debut as a standalone company with the international licensing and festival management of Aron Gauder's Nyocker! (District!), which consequently won in Annecy, Ottawa, Zagreb, and Brussels.

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In 2007, we ran Geza M. Toth's Maestro for several awards, and the film eventually got an Oscar nomination. Having tried ourselves in all other fields of the film industry, we assume production duties in several independent projects since 2008. While some of our short films have already been completed, the big ones are still in production.

What kinds of films are you interested in making? How do you choose the projects?
I think we all enjoy working on films where a full heart and unwavering professionalism is equally involved across the entire production team. Those projects somehow seem to be gliding ahead almost by themselves. When I spot a chance for that kind of work, I sign.

What do you think of the actual movie financing system in Hungary?
The bold tax incentive programme in Hungary made a real impact: there are plenty of international co-productions at hand these days. The state financing of movies is being transformed by it too. As both the available funds and the maximum achievable box office revenues are quite limited in a small country like Hungary, it makes much sense to encourage studios to enter into international co-productions. However, I'd like to see more private equity involved in our business – rather than purely government-based support – to give a real kick-start to valuable films that also sell. Today, it is still a combination that you rarely encounter in Eastern European production credits.

What projects do you currently have in production and development? How did you manage to build the project Egill?
Yes, our own personal Icelander, Egill, is fit and very much alive; this rampageous maverick will get out of our studios in all three dimensions as soon as next year. I'm also working on Strange Forest, a highly sensitive and intelligent script from Serbia, which we hope to get fully financed in the coming months.

What do you think of European animation?
Wherever European animation tries to imitate Disney, Pixar or even Japanese anime, I feel that we're going slightly off-track. It's like a puzzled church organist overlooking the combination pistons of the possible registers on his monumental instrument. Animated feature film may be an expensive genre just to fool around with, but in my opinion there still is room for a more experimental approach in mid- or high-budget European animation.

What do you expect from the EFP Producer on the Move initiative?
Quite simple: I want a colleague to tell me of a project that leaves me stunned. Or, alternatively, I want to see someone in that same condition upon hearing about my upcoming film ideas.

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