30 January 2006
Istvan Szabo's Relatives will open the 37th Hungarian Film Week tonight as scheduled despite the director's admission that he was an informant for Hungary's communist-era secret police while a film student in the 1950s.
Magyar Filmunio, the promotion agency of the Hungarian Motion Picture Public Foundation, would not comment on the matter other than to say that the programme would not be changed.
On Friday, Szabo told the Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag that he had become an informant in order to save the life of a fellow student in the aftermath of the 1956 uprising against the communist regime. The director characterised his work for the secret police as "the bravest and most fearless of my life."
It is not uncommon in Hungary for celebrities and other well-known persons to be labelled as collaborators with the former communist government. Ex-Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy and Olympic footballer Dezso Novak have also been painted with the spy brush.
Szabo's Relatives opens the 37th Hungarian Film Week on January 31. The foreign critics’ Gene Moskowitz Award will be awarded at the closing ceremony on February 7.
Szabo won an Oscar for his 1981 film Mephisto, which portrays an actor who strikes a Faustian deal with the Nazis. He has made several English-language films, including Being Julia in 2004.