State-owned film production: 1945-1988

The film production balance sheet of these four, largely non-video decades verges on the chaotic. Starting from the 1960s, a growing number of companies, ministries and educational institutions increasingly used film techniques that were ever more easy to access in order to facilitate their work and document their operations. Thus today, the Film Archive is not only responsible for processing and publishing films of official state documentary film workshops but numerous corporate archives, too. Research and work with the films themselves is not only interesting but exciting since it is not uncommon to come across long-defunct enterprises’ moving images, the existence of which in many cases was unknown till then.

During the coalition, until nationalization (1948) documentary films were mainly made by film enterprises of the various parties, then after nationalization by film studios under the control of the culture portfolio. Between 1945-1970, approximately 4000 documentaries were made in Hungarian state film productions, the majority of which can be found and researched in our archive. Up until the late 1980s, films were also made by various institutions, industrial corporations and ministries, the majority educational, propaganda and reference films. The greater proportion of these were shot on 16 mm film. These works – processing of which is currently underway – represent important sources on the history of Hungarian society, economy and mentality. Pre-1953, 35 mm films were shot on nitrate-base print. Since this is degradable, highly flammable and explosive, as part of our restoration programme we are saving it onto safety material while also keeping the original nitrate print. Films made after 1953 were on safety material; the restoration of these is ongoing.

Gipsies, directed by Sándor Sára, 1962 (HNFA)