The core of our foreign feature film stock is nationalized commercial prints in the storeroom of the Star Film Factory on Pasaréti Road. These were screened as part of season ticket performances in the Archive’s first cinema, the legendary Filmmúzeum (Film Museum) on Tanács Boulevard. From the 1960s, we screened characteristic works of film new waves and classics of international film art at showings open to the public with distribution rights valid for a single cinema. Queues stretched around the block for the chance to watch films by Truffaut, Pasolini, Bergman, Orson Welles and Robert Altman. We also acquired films (through swaps) from co-archives of former socialist countries for the film history series. In this period, the revenue of the cinema and film clubs was so central to the upkeep of the Filmtudományi Intézet (Institute of Film Science) that this inevitably led to deterioration of the stock.
With the introduction of the 1998 decree on legal deposit, the distributors – inasmuch as this was possible under the contract they signed with the title holder – were required to deposit a copy with the archive after expiry of copyright. That said, not every distributor followed the rules. As a consequence and contrary to popular belief, our stock does not contain every foreign feature film screened in cinemas in Hungary.
We do not lend foreign films for screening because we do not have their distribution rights. No restoration is being carried out in this area; our aim is to preserve existing copies.