The Post-Communist Mafia State at the Hungarian Film Festival in Los Angeles

Three years ago I wrote about a cherished Californian tradition; the Hungarian Film Festivals in Los Angeles and San Francisco. For many years these events were interesting and entertaining, and the organizers presented an array of films, features, documentaries and shorts. (Read here about past festivals.)

The “father” of the Los Angeles Hungarian Film Festival is Béla Bunyik. He came up with the idea almost two decades ago when he brought to the US Robert Koltai’s film: We Never Die and the positive audience feedback kept the festivals rolling. Mr. Bunyik is involved in the Hungarian film business for decades just like his good friend, Mr. Orbán’s media mogul, Andy Vajna who spends part of the year in California.

Old friends:  Mr. Andy Vajna, Mrs. Bonnie Anderle Bunyik, Mr. Béla Bunyik and Mr. Vajna’s glamourous wife Timea Vajna (née Palácsik)

Mr. Vajna is a noted film producer in Hollywood. New he is Mr. Orbán’s film commissioner and a casino magnate in Budapest. He owns Lapcom Kiadó Zrt., publisher of several newspapers, as well as the popular tabloid, Bors. He also has a commercial television station, a radio station. Mr. Vajna’s highly profitable media empire faithfully serves Orbán’government; he never criticizes the Boss (Mr. Orbán’s nickname).

This year the 17th Hungarian Film Festival in Los Angeles ran from November 2-16 and the event is generously supported by the Hungarian government. The festival is no longer an open and fair competition. It is something else. (See here the festival program.)

One of the documentaries, The Köröstárkány Massacre is about the Romanian Army breaking in Transylvania in 1919. The film was directed by Ferenc Vojtkó and produced by Tamás Széles.

Mr. Széles is Hungary’s Consul General in Los Angeles; he sponsored the festival and his government paid for it, so it seems unfair that he is promoting his own film in the competition. The concept of “level playing field” in unknown in Budapest. Prior to becoming a diplomat Mr. Széles led a small television studio in the city of Debrecen where he made several Christian themed films with Mr. Vojtkó financed by Hungarian taxpayers. He is a close friend of the city’s major, Lajos Kósa. We wrote about him before. (Read here about Mr. Kósa.)

Hungary’s Consul General in Los Angeles, Mr. Tamás Széles.

Another documentary in the program, The Man of God is about Cardinal József Mindszenty and his trip to the United States forty years ago. It was directed by Tamás Széles and written by Ferenc Vojtkó. I pinch myself. Is this real?

The next film, The Route to The Holy Cross, is about Hungary’s roadside crosses made of stone, wood, or tin, a documentary by Ferenc Vojtkó and Tamás Széles. Another feature us What Only Birds Can See, portraying lovely nature scenes from Lake Tisza area and directed by: Széles Tamás. Just how many Széles films are in the program?

Mr. Béla Bunyik (in sunglasses) and Los Angeles Consul General of Hungary Mr. Tamás Széles.

The Festival’s “independent” jury this year gave the Best Documentary Award to Tamás Széles. I bet that the decision was unanimous.

Bálint Magyar, a sociologist and former Minister of Education recently gave a presentation at the University of California at Berkeley about the political situation in Poland and Hungary. He calls Orbán’s system Post-Communist Mafia State. According to Mr. Magyar every facet of life in Hungary, including the media is affected by cronyism and corruption of the “ruling elite.” Consul General Széles dispatched one of his trusted men to Berkeley to troll his presentation and a young diplomat, Attila Danku stood up and informed the surprised university audience that the speaker, Mr. Magyar, is corrupt and is a liar. (Read more here.)

Well folks, it appears as the Orbán regime’s Post-Communist Mafia State has arrived to California.

György Lázár

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