Julianna Ugrin • Producer, Éclipse Film
"The boundaries between fiction and creative documentary are becoming less and less visible"
by Fabien Lemercier
- Hungarian producer Julianna Ugrin, of Éclipse Film, talks to us about her work and her selection for EFP’s Producers on the Move
Julianna Ugrin founded her own Budapest-based independent production company, Éclipse Film, in 2011. Since then, she has concentrated on developing and producing creative documentaries such as Hot Men Cold Dictatorships (2015), Train to Adulthood [+see also:
film profile] (2015), A Woman Captured [+see also:
film profile] (2017) and Easy Lessons [+see also:
film profile] (2018). She is one of European Film Promotion’s 2019 Producers on the Move.
Cineuropa: What have the main stages of your career as a producer been?
Julianna Ugrin: I became a junior producer by being selected for the EURODOC producers workshop in 2009, which I see as a very important step in my education and my introduction to the international production landscape. At that time, I worked at Havas Films, where I got the chance to work as a Hungarian co-producer on a 6 x one-hour international series called Farewell Comrades (Artline Films, Gebrueder Beetz, Arte). In 2011, I founded Éclipse Film, where I started to produce feature-length documentaries. Between 2014 and 2016, I also worked together with Café Film as an executive producer on several fiction films, such as Loop [+see also:
film profile], The Whiskey Bandit [+see also:
film profile] and Kincsem – Bet on Revenge [+see also:
film profile]. In 2015, I was part of the EAVE producers workshop, which took me to the next level of my career. Today, I am working on a slate comprising both fiction films and documentaries.
Can you outline Éclipse Film’s recent and current slate?
Éclipse Film's recent productions are mainly feature-length documentaries, and they have enjoyed a successful international career. Our recent slate includes films like Train to Adulthood by Klára Trencsényi, the winner of the Golden Dove at DOK Leipzig; The Next Guardian by Arun Bhattarai and Dorottya Zurbó, the first Hungarian-Bhutanese co-production; the award-winning A Woman Captured by Bernadett Tuza-Ritter, premiered at the IDFA and Sundance, selected for 80 festivals and nominated for the European Film Award; and Easy Lessons by Dorottya Zurbó, which premiered at Locarno and has had a rich international career since. Currently, we are working on the development of two features: Recordings by Diana Groó, a project that is part of ScripTeast this year, and Beauty Queen by Áron Mátyássy. Éclipse Film also continues to work on documentaries, like Our Father, the moving story of a Catholic priest who has to quit his profession because he is a father to three children; Wardens of Memory, about the once-flourishing Jewish community in Cochin, India; and Liquid Gold, about the Aszú from Tokaj - to be premiered soon.
What types of documentaries are you mainly interested in making? What is your company’s production philosophy?
We are on the lookout for stories that are unique and exceptional, in terms of both their context and their artistic side. They should be relevant to current issues, whether fiction or documentary, and should be able to target both a Hungarian and an international audience.
What do you think about the boundaries between documentary and fiction?
I believe that the boundaries between fiction and creative documentary are becoming less and less visible; they influence each other strongly through the use of similar techniques or dramatic structures. However, there is a clear ethical boundary that should never be crossed while making a documentary – namely, to show reality, real events and real people without misleading the audience.
What’s the film-financing system like in Hungary? And do you think digital platforms will boost documentary financing?
The new Hungarian National Film Fund was set up in 2011, to support feature-length films intended for a theatrical release. The TV fund, called MTVA Mecenatura, was created the same year, and it supports films for television, with a maximum grant of €32,000 per documentary. While producing a film, you have to choose between the two. Hungary's rebate scheme was recently raised from 20% to 30%.
As Hungary is part of the HBO Europe stable, we can also collaborate with them. Since user habits are changing radically thanks to the digital age, people watch documentaries whenever they can and want to, instead of being restricted to unfavourable, late-night, fixed screening times. I believe this will help to pique audiences’ interest in documentaries, which is a great opportunity for filmmakers like us, and we have to seize it.
Do you have international aspirations in terms of co-producing with other European countries?
If we have the opportunity to co-produce a film with an international partner, and the film requires it, we definitely have to go for it. Our recent title The Next Guardian was the first Hungarian-Bhutanese co-production in film history. The production didn't involve Hungarian money, but only European and international funds. The EFA nominee A Woman Captured is a Hungarian-German co-production; we co-produced it with Corso Film. So yes, we have international aspirations, even if it is not always very easy.
You are one of EFP's Producers on the Move. What does this mean to you, and how will it help you during Cannes this year?
I am very honoured to have been selected for EFP's Producers on the Move, a programme that I have followed closely for some years now. And I am happy that it has happened this year, just when we also have a project, Recordings by Diana Groó, at the ScripTeast Workshop. It will have its final pitching session at Cannes.
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