The Béla Balázs Studio

The most important workshop for experimental film and its young directors, the Béla Balázs Studio, was established in 1959. During the first two years of its existence it produced no films, functioning as a film-club and a forum for lectures and discussions. The event that turned the Studio (back) into a workshop producing films was the appearance of the "Máriássy-class" on the professional scene, (Judit Elek, Pál Gábor, Imre Gyöngyössy, Zoltán Huszárik, Ferenc Kardos, Zsolt Kézdi Kovács, János Rózsa, Éva Singer, István Szabó, Eduard Zahariev), graduating from the Film Academy in 1960/61. These people always considered team-work to be of decisive importance. The annual budget of the Studio never exceeded the budget of an average Hungarian feature-film. The studio produced its films without " an obligation to show the films for the public", thereby both avoiding the pitfalls of censorship and unconscious self-censorship and being free to experiment without compromises.

The team of the first years was made up, besides the members of the Máriássy-class, of István Gaál, Márk Novák, Sándor Sára and János Tóth having graduated a few years before the legendary class. Their first films were colourful experiments in style and form, and their dominant characteristic was a lyrical and personal tone (Ferenc Kardos: "Ours is the World", Márk Novák: "Still-life", István Szabó: "You, or Variations on a Theme"). This statement is true even for their documentaries:(Sándor Sára: Gypsies). However, it is not long before instances of the grotesque and the ironic appear. ( Márk Novák's "Tuesday" István Ventilla's: "Open-air Pool") Zoltán Huszárik 's montage-poem, "Elegy", was created in 1965.

Following the films created by Sándor Sára, István Gaál and Judit Elek the films created by the next generation were predominantly documentarist experiments conjuring up the image of reality with sometimes grotesque, sometimes lyrical methods. ( Judit Elek: "How Long Does a Man Live?" Gyula Gazdag: "We shall always count on your long run", "Selection" Pál Schiffer: "Black Train" György Szomjas: "Honeymoons".

Dezső Magyar's film-composition, "Punitive Expedition", -built up like a musical piece,- was created in 1970. A year before that he directed "Canvassing", and many of the actors playing in this film were soon to become important members of the studio. The first person to be given the chance to direct a film without proper academic degrees was Gábor Bódy. Many of the members of the avant-garde movement of related genres of art continued in his footsteps. (Péter Dobai: "Archaic Torso" Dóra Mauer: "Relatively Swinging" Ákos Birkás: "The Mirror-Image" Tibor Hajas: "Self-Fashion-Show" Tamás Szentjóby: "Centaur", Zoltán Jeney: "Round" László Vidovszky: "Aldrin"). Their films usually explore the natural endowments and possibilities of visual expression. The experimentalist movement was carried on within the framework of visual experiments and K/3( Cultural Complex Researches). The two dominant figures of the movement were Gábor Bódy and Miklós Erdélyi. Bódy was most interested in the analysis of the form of film and the relationship between film and other genres of art. With his etudes of the 80s and the launching of the international video magazine INFERMENTAL Bódy became an internationally renown figure of video experiments. Miklós Erdélyi had never been admitted into the workshops of official film-production. His films are experimenting with the asynchrony of picture and sound, with time and repetition. ( Partita, Dream copies, Spring Execution). Bódy and Erdélyi have both written some major theoretical works as well.

BBS has been producing long feature films since the 70s. The first films of this sequence are Gyula Maár's "Press", András Lányi's "Segesvár" and Gábor Bódy's "American Picture Card".

Analytic documentarism and documentaries unmasking the social conflicts and secret events of 20th century Hungarian history have characterised the studio's production since the 70s. (The monumental "Series on Education" by István Dárday, László Mihályfi, Györgyi Szalai, László Vitézy and Pál Wilt, Judit Ember's "Educational Story, Pócspetri, Asylum" Gyula Gulyás-János Gulyás's "Still, There are Changes", "Water is Yet the Lord", Film of Ballads").

The school of sensibility launched its conquest from BBS. The most important characteristic of these films was the rediscovery of the possibilities of story-telling and the desire to be effectual. ( János Xantus' "Diorissimo" "In Female Hands", Péter Iván Müller's "Ex-Codex" András Vahorn's "Ice-Cream Ballet", Ildikó Enyedi's "Mole", Zoltán Kamondi's "Subconscious Station", Sándor Sőth's "Agent on Wings".

During these years and quite until the present day the motion-picture- ( more and more video-) experiments , ( János Sugár, Miklós Peternák, László Révész) as well as the historical-analytical and metaphysical re-writing and re-editing of amateur films and archive materials continued to be dominant features of Hungarian film. ( Péter Tímár and Gábor Bódy, then Péter Forgács's "A Private Hungary" series.) For a long time, János Tóth has directed his films either in BBS or heavily influenced by it, ( "Study I and II, " and "Shine"). The same can be said about András Szirtes ( "Diary, Dawn, The History of the Pronuma Planets, Lenz"). The video-documentation of András Jeles's experimental theatrical productions was also filmed by BBS.

The Béla Balázs Studio, by establishing a framework for experiments and a forum for newcomers to the profession, -trying continually to expand the scope of film's possibilities,- continues to be a challenge for official film-production. Ever since the early 60s every major figure of Hungarian film has directed at least one film in the Béla Balázs Studio.