Hungarian Film in San Francisco (HFSF) is part of Central European California Cultural Institute (CECI) dedicated to presenting a selection of contemporary Hungarian feature films, live action shorts, documentaries, and animation. In the past HFSF has worked with the Hungarian Film Festival taking place in Los Angeles. It is part of the curriculum of the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University, and as such it offers a unique combination of public access and higher education.
CECI, a San Francisco-based NGO, organizes cultural exchange between the two regions, having originated with a film festival and aimed to develop into a wide array of cultural events. The mission of CECI, founded and run by three Hungarian-Americans, is to promote Hungarian and other Central European film, theater and music events in California. The film festival is one of the main current cultural activities of CECI. The founders intend the organization to branch into the other arts in the near future.
Both the festival and the cultural institute are the creation of three Hungarian-Americans, professor Steven Kovacs, documentary filmmaker Réka Pigniczky and producer Éva Karafiáth-Homor.
In 2012, we hosted our first guest. Director Benedek Fliegauf accompanied his “Just the Wind” (the official Hungarian entry to the Academy Awards) to screen at SFSU in front of an audience of some 150 students and general public.
In 2013 we received private funding for the appearance of director Andras Vagvolgyi to present his feature “Kolorado Kid.” HFSF founder Reka Pigniczky volunteered to show and discuss her latest film “Heritage”. The Q & A that followed the two directors’ appearance were the highlights of the festival. Evening screenings were attended by 130 viewers.
In 2014 CECI received an “Art and Culture” grant approved by The Hungary Initiatives Foundation to support the 3rd Annual Hungarian Film Festival in San Francisco.
In 2015, at the 4th Hungarian Film Festival we made the first audience award to “Afterlife / Utóélet” by Virág Zomborácz.
In 2018 the 5th Hungarian Film Festival will take place on November 2-3 at our usual venue, the August Coppola Theatre, SFSU. In recognition of our pioneering quality programs, this year we received a grant from The Hungary Initiatives Foundation. With their support we have invited Academy Award winner director Kristóf Deák, award-winning director Attila Szász, and Zsuzsanna Gellér-Varga documentary filmmaker to present and discuss their work. We welcome guests to enjoy the movies and the Q&A afterwards. All screenings are free and open to the public.
“I received an email from a Hungarian club in San Francisco inviting me to this festival, and I thought I should really come – I haven’t seen a Hungarian film in 10 years.” (Viktor Perkala, San Francisco)
“I used to work in the film business in Hungary and now I live here. So for me this is a great continuation of Hungarian film culture, since I can’t be at home now to watch films.” (Sövény Tímea, San Francisco)
To promote Hungarian and other Central Eastern European films in the SF Bay Area. We are cultural pioneers for films in general, and Hungarian and other regional films especially.
Cultural programs and events initially throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, eventually in the entire state of California. Such programs and events may include art exhibits, musical presentations, theatrical and dance performances, and conferences that showcase the diverse traditions of Central Europe. Lectures and classes focused on educating the public about the rich and diverse culture and arts of Central Europe.Youth activities promoting charitable and educational purposes. Publication of educational information on a website.
Professor Steven Kovacs, the formerly Chair of SFSU Cinema Department, began as a film historian, writing the book From Enchantment to Rage: The Story of Surrealist Cinema. He started teaching at Stanford, where he co-produced the documentary Arthur and Lillie, for which he received an Academy Award Nomination. He worked as head of production for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures (1977-79). He has produced, written and directed a number of features, including The Lady in Red, On the Line, ’68, and Angel Blue.
He was invited to chair the SFSU Cinema Department in 1990 and has taught there ever since. He has written criticism on art, film, and politics, poetry and fiction. He has taught a wide range of courses, including screenwriting, directing and national cinemas, particularly European and Latin American. He was a Fulbright Fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Theater, Film and Television in 2002-2003.
From 2013 he is a co-Founder, Chairman of the Board and President of Central European California Cultural Institute, a San Francisco-based NGO which organizes cultural exchange between the two regions. The mission of CECI is to promote Central European film, theater events in California.
Steven earned a B.A. in History from Yale and a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from Harvard.
“Angel Blue” (Producer, Director, Writer), 1998
“’68″ (Director, Writer), 1988
“On the Line,” (Producer), 1985
“Einstein: The Man Behind the Genius” (Producer, Director), 1982
“The Lady in Red” (Producer) 1979
“Arthur and Lillie” Documentary (Producer) 1975
Eva began her film career after high school and graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree in communications and film in Budapest, Hungary. She worked as a Producer Assistant, Unit/ Production Manager for ten years in Hungarian and International feature films and commercials and achieved the title of Line Producer in international commercials. She has a screenwriter and electrician skills. Her university project short film “Aqua” (directed by David Spah) won the “best screenplay” award at the 2006 San Francisco International Short Film Festival. She organized Moveast International Filmfestival for 4 years in Hungary, Pécs. From 2013 she is also a co-Founder and Board of Director of Central European California Cultural Institute, a San Francisco-Budapest based NGO which organizes cultural exchange between the two regions. The mission of CECI is to promote Central European film, theater and cultural events in California. Together with her husband as members of the American – Hungarian community she is volunteering as an organizer in the Neumann Society. Her aim is to help to spread Hungarian culture in the US and connect Hungarians with the diaspora in the US.
2010 Eletrichix (short – co-producer)
2006 Aqua (short – producer)
2010 Whatever Floats Your Boat (short – production manager)
2009 Prank (feature – unit manager)
2005 The real Santa (feature – unit manager)
2010 Electrichix ( short – co-screenwriter)
2006 Aqua (short – co-screenwriter)
2008 John Adams (TV Mini-Series – art department coordinator – 2 episodes)
– Reunion (2008) … (art department coordinator: Hungary)
– Don’t Tread on Me (2008) … (art department coordinator: Hungary)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director:
2008 Nyugalom (feature – second assistant director)
2006 Ballada (short – assistant director)
2006 Fekete fehér (TV Movie – production assistant)
2005 The Porcelain Doll (TV Movie – production assistant)
2008 Nyugalom ( feature – Theatre director’s assistant)
Réka Pigniczky is a television journalist, producer and independent documentary filmmaker. She’s worked for the Associated Press Television News for over 10 years, both in New York and Budapest, Hungary. She completed her first feature-length documentary, Journey Home: a story from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, at the end of 2006. It won awards in Hungary and was invited to screen at a number of international film festivals. She completed her second feature-length documentary, Inkubátor, in 2010, which saw a wide audience in Hungary through a national theatrical release as well as television broadcast, and it enjoyed wide critical acclaim after the Hungarian Film Festival. The film was also voted one of the 25 best films released in Hungary in 2010.
56 Films is actively involved in Hungary’s documentary community, and Réka has taken part in a number of festival juries and international documentary projects. She is also a member of the European Documentary Network (EDN) and the International Documentary Association (IDA).
Réka has an MA in journalism and international relations from Columbia University in New York, and she also has an MA in political science from the Central European University in Budapest. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.
Réka was born and raised in the U.S. by Hungarian refugee parents and lived in Hungary for 14 years after the Iron Curtain fell, spending the early 1990’s working as a political consultant and volunteer organizer for women’s NGO’s in Hungary. She serves on the board of Blood Mountain Foundation, an international artist residency program based in Budapest. Since 2002, she lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area, working as a filmmaker, journalist, cross-cultural events director and proud mother of three bicultural children.
From 2013 she is also the co-Founder and Board Member of the Central European California Cultural Institute, a San Francisco-based NGO which organizes cultural exchange between the two regions. The mission of CECI is to promote Central European film, theater events in California.
Kodály on the Cuyahoga (Kodály a Cuyahogán)
2014, Television Documentary (Duna World), 52 min; Lang: Hungarian
2013, USA/Hungary; Documentary, 63 min.; Lang: English/Hungarian
The Man who Built Shanghai (Hudec László Élete)
2011, USA/Hungary, Documentary Short, 26 min. Lang: English/Hungarian/Mandarin
2009/2010, USA/Hungary; Creative Documentary, 88 min.; Lang: English/Hungarian
Kazár: from the Cradle to the Grave (Kazár: A Bölcsőtöl a Sírig)
2008, Hungary; Ethnographic Documentary, 45 min; Lang: Hungarian
Journey Home: A Story from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (Hazatérés)
2006, USA/Hungary; Creative Documentary, 88 min.; Lang: English/Hungarian
Csak a Szél (Just the wind) feature film by Bence Fliegauf (with Q&A with the director)
Az Ajtó (The Door) feature film by István Szabó
A Vizsga (The Exam) feature film by Péter Bergendy
Az Ember Tragédiája (The Tragedy of Man) feature animation by Marcell Jankovics
Magyar Bajusz (Hungarian Mustache) Documentary short by Nóra Lakatos
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