Culture & Society News

József Antall biopic to start filming in October

Budapest, Hungary – The upcoming Hungarian film The Blockade will explore the life of Hungary’s first democratically elected prime minister, József Antall and is set to start filming this October, the National Film institute announced.

The script, written by acclaimed screenwriter Norbert Köbli, known for Demimonde, Tall Tales and Emmy-winner Eternal Winter will explore the life of József Antall from his struggles in 1956 to his role in the Hungarian Republic’s first crisis, the 1990 Taxi Blockade. Tamás Lajos will produce the film, while Ádám Tősér is set to direct.

“The Blockade will explore a real human drama through an important event from Hungary’s not-so-distant history that is slowly being forgotten. We want to address the emotions and relationships behind politics directly. The film is not only for those who lived through the memorable days of the blockade but also for those who were born after the change of regime and want to get an authentic picture of this crucial event.”- said Tősér in a statement.

József Antall was born in 1932 to a political family. His father was one of the founders of the Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party, while his maternal grandfather was a secretary of state and an MP between 1927 and 1935. József Antall studied History to a PhD level but was banned from working as a teacher due to his role in the 1956 revolution.

Working in archives, he became interested in the History of Medicine and contributed to the field extensively and gave lectures at several German universities.

In the late 1980s, he joined the conservative democratic opposition formation MDF which played a pivotal role in the change of regime. In 1989, Antall was elected the president of the party and led MDF to victory in post-communist Hungary’s first election in 1990. He was prime minister during the new republic’s first crisis, the 1990 Taxi Blockade, when taxi drivers who were protesting hikes in the price of petrol set up blockades in Budapest and other major cities, paralysing transport in the country for days.

In February 1991, József Antall so-signed the Visegrád Declaration with Poland’s Lech Wałęsa and Czechoslovakia’s Václav Havel, officially founding the Visegrád Group, also known as the V4.

József Antall was unable to complete his term as prime minister as he died of cancer in 1993. Though a controversial figure at the time, József Antall gained universal respect and admiration in the Hungarian public’s collective memory since the time of his death. The Blockade is the second recently announced film that is set to deal with the events of the Hungarian change of regime after the filming of HBO’s miniseries, The Informer was announced earlier this spring.

The film will receive 1.47 billion forint funding from the Hungarian National Film Institute and is expected to premiere in Autumn 2022.

By Ábel Bede

Ábel Bede was born in Budapest and has two degrees in History from Durham University. He specialised in Central Europan history and has been contributing to Kafkadesk since 2019. Feel free to check out more of his articles right here!