magyar / english

08 February 2006
The Man from London

Press release about the current situation of Béla Tarr's and Gábor Téni's international coproduction project The Man from London

Dear Friends,
This time we make an attempt to summarize the events that have happened since the shooting of  The Man From London  was interrupted and inform you about the  current situation of the production as of today.
As we are all aware the film is being made in French-German and Hungarian co-production , with the support of European cultural foundations, such as ARTE and Eurimages.
The cash flow plan in the appendix of the co-production contract of the film  stipulates in detail as to which party, when and how  shall perform its obligations.
It is clear from that document that the cash flow of the funding on the Hungarian side is guaranteed by T.T.Filmműhely, and the bank loans  on the French and German side were warranted by Humbert Balsan via the Paris based Coficiné Bank.
Under such conditions we launched the preparatory work of the film. Last January we started to build the set costing 2 million Euros and move the crew, the equipment and the actors to Bastia on Corsica.
Just two days before the planned first day of the shooting we got the tragic news that Humbert Balsan had died!
In this shocking situation we had to postpone the start of the shooting, however, finally, in agreement with our co-producers and with the powerful help of our supporters (with the direct involvement of ARTE and Eurimages) we started the shooting despite the fact that the cash-flow on the French side stopped, and Coficiné froze the disbursement.
In this vacuum situation we managed to shoot for 9 days so, that T.T.Filmműhely cross-financed  on to the French side.
After that, as the payments were frozen Tanit, the subcontractor on Corsica – who had been in a contractual relationship with Humbert Balsan – stopped working, terminated the contract and obliged us in a resolution by the notary public to dismantle the set and leave the location of the shooting.
It became obvious that the management and the lawyers of Ognon Pictures do not intend to deal with the production any more - in the most cynical manner they maliciously abandoned the crew, the equipment and the co-production partners. Therefore we invited the representatives of Mezzanine Film to come to Bastia, and in this dramatic situation  they demonstrated a nice example of solidarity between filmmakers by committing themselves in a Memo Deal to continuing the film.
In those days we saw various forms of sympathy being declared, international and national film organizations expressed their solidarity as well which consolidated our resolution to finish film!
Once the chaos that followed the interruption of the shooting subsided, when there were no more obscure and scandalous articles in the press, we could finally stagger to our feet, and resume to  working.
Our German partners reassured us that they continue to be our co-producers and are ready for future cooperation.
The two main supporters, ARTE and CNC (the French National Film Centre) expressed in a letter and in an e-mail respectively, that we can count on their support further on.
MMKA, the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation and the Minister of Culture of Hungary also made a promise that they support the production if the safe completion of the film is guaranteed.
Having obtained all these resolutions and guarantees a new co-production contract was made last July signed by Mezzanine Film as the French partner.
We worked out a budget for the completion which was based on a compromise shooting plan, in which - contrary to the original ideas - a quarter of the shooting would not take place on Corsica, but somewhere here in Eastern Europe.
With this we managed to cut down on the costs by approx. 700.000 Euros and align that with the funding available for us for this year
During the summer holiday season the reorganization process was slowed down enormously, however our lawyers in the Budapest and Paris based law firm offices of Hogan&Hartson started to clear up the legal status of the production.
In this process it turned out that Humbert Balsan’s company, the Ognon Pictures are indebted approx 13 million Euros, and a part of this debt package is our film but we don’t know in what proportion. Ognon has never made any settlement with or any communications to the co-producers.  Ognon – without letting the co-producers know about it and without asking them – put all the rights of the film in pledge for Coficiné, including even those contracts that had not been concluded by them.
This contract of pledge was incorporated by the court!
In this legally paralyzed situation we had two options to chose from: we either fight for our truth in a trial procedure and thus regain our rights or have an out of court settlement with the bankruptcy officer of Ognon who has asked for protection against bankruptcy.
Having overcome our moral indignation, finally we chose for the latter option.
Through our lawyers we started negotiations with Coficiné, the biggest lender of Ognon and the beneficiary of the contract of pledge.
At the same time Mezzanine Film have come to a position that they would prefer a production of smaller size, less burdened with mortgages, therefore on September 5th, a date set in the co-production contract for revision and finalization we split up based on common agreement.
So at the meeting with Coficiné in Paris we participated with our new and final French partner, Paul Saadoun at our side (13 Production).
Coficiné was extremely pleased to see Paul Saadoun enter into the film and committed itself to complete the film.
So this is where we are at this moment. The agreement with Ognon and  Coficiné has been concluded, the signed contract has been submitted to the court in Paris and we shall soon start shooting the film which is now relieved from the burden of the past.
We sincerely hope that the descent to hell and the humiliation is over, finally we can switch off the light in the projection hall, and we can see what it was all about after all.
Because what is made ready from this shooting of half an hour or so is something that makes all of us burst with pride !

Budapest, February 6, 2006.

Béla Tarr

Gábor Téni

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last modified: 22 February 2008
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