Lumière films were screened in Budapest within a few months of their initial showing in Paris, with the earliest Hungarian film, A tanc/The Dance (Bela Zsitovsky, 1901), consisting of twenty-seven one‐minute reels each documenting a different folk dance. The feature film, Ma es holnap/Today and Tomorrow, released in 1912, was made by Mihely Kertész, who would later become famous in Hollywood as Michael Curtiz, director of Casablanca (1942). By 1915, there were 270 cinemas in Hungary and by 1918 109 films had been produced, with Sandor Korda (later Alexander Korda) a key player. A significant Hungarian émigré tradition was established early on, with Korda, Bela Lugosi, Emeric Pressburger, Miklos Rozsa, István Kovacs, and George Cukor, all of Hungarian origin, making significant contributions to the film industries of other countries. Political upheavals caused a hiatus in film production until the 1930s, with the Hungarian film industry faring badly compared with those of Poland and Czechoslovakia (see Czech Republic, film in; Slovakia, film in); though genre films, especially musicals, romance and comedies (many starring comic actor Gyula Kabos) continued to attract audiences. One of Hungary’s most celebrated films, István Szot’s Emberek a havason/The Mountain People (1942), stems from this period. During World War II, an initial boost to film production, due to the restriction of imports from Western Europe and the US, led to an all‐time high of fifty-four films released in 1942, though this was quickly followed by the wholesale destruction of the technical base during World War II. ...
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