Crimes of the Future Producer Robert Lantos on Rise of the Raven

Filming is underway near Budapest for Rise of the Raven, an epic drama series produced by Serendipity Point Films (Crimes of the Future) and Beta Film (Gomorrah) by veteran Canadian producer Robert Lantos and marked the most lavish television production in Hungary’s history.

Based on author Bán Mór’s best-selling novels, the 10-part series tells the story of the Hungarian warrior Janos Hunyadi, who defeated the Ottoman army at the Battle of Belgrade in 1456 and halted their march through Europe.

Lantos, who produced “The Sweet Hereafter”, “Johnny Mnemonic” and “Eastern Promises” among other things, spoke exclusively diversity about a passion project that has been working on for more than a decade. He was joined by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning director Robert Dornhelm (The Children of Theater Street, Maria Theresa, War and Peace) and Hungarian director Attila Szász (Tall Tales, Eternal Winter “). and Orsi Nagypal (“The Deal,” “The Outpost”), who joined the entertainment fresh from filming an epic battle sequence outside of Budapest.

Hungarian-born Lantos, who was in Cannes this year with David Cronenberg’s body horror film Crimes of the Future, described Rise of the Raven as “a typically Hungarian tale” about an event that “changed the history of Europe changed and influenced all of European civilization and what came after.”

It took more than a decade to secure funding for the show, and the final piece of the puzzle fell when the Hungarian National Film Institute (NFI) issued its first funding call for television and online content in early 2020, offering $29 million “Rise of the Raven.”

The show is funded by NFI and Beta and produced by Serendipity Point Films, Twin Media, HG Media, MR Film and Beta. Co-producer is the Hungarian TV2 Network, which will broadcast the show in Hungary and Slovenia. Austrian broadcaster ORF was announced this week as co-producer and will broadcast the series in Austria.

Also producing are Tibor Krsko (“Fateless”, “Children of Glory”, “The Song of Names”), Cecilia Hazai, Kinga Hazai and Ari Lantos (“Remember”, “Barney’s Version”) alongside Oliver Auspitz and Andreas Kamm MR Film ( “Vienna Blood”) and Beta CCO Koby Gal Raday.

Adapting Mór’s epic novel series required the grueling work of a writing team “trying to turn about five or six thousand pages of fiction into a ten-hour screenplay,” Lantos said. “It was a big responsibility to take on, and I wanted to make sure we had a team that was up to the challenge.” Showrunner Balázs Lengyel (HBO series Golden Life) shares the writers with George Mihalka, Balázs Lovas , Zsófia Ruttkay, Attila Veres and the author Mór.

At the beginning of Rise of the Raven, the Ottoman Empire mobilizes an army of unprecedented size and strength, marching west with the goal of capturing the Vatican and sweeping across the continent. It is the fierce warrior Hunyadi and his overwhelmed troops who stand in the way of the Empire.

Set amidst the scandals, political power games and courtly intrigues of medieval Europe, Nagypal says the series is nevertheless a human story at its core.

“For me, the whole historical story is just the background,” she said. “I think we have a very complex and very human story of our heroes. It’s a family drama. There’s a man who marries a woman who he never sees again because he keeps fighting to save his country. Then he has children that he must sacrifice for his country. For me the biggest question and for me the essence of the story is how much do you have to sacrifice for the cause you believe in?”

On Tuesday, the production announced a cast that includes Hungarian rising star Gellért L. Kádár as Hunyadi, and Hungarian television, film and stage star Vivien Rujder as his partner Elizabeth Szilagyi.

They are joined by an international cast including Austrian Laurence Rupp (“Barbarians”), Cornelius Obonya (“Maria Theresa”), Murathan Muslu (“Breaking Point”), Italian Francesco Acquaroli (“Fargo”, “Suburra”) , Czech actor Karel Roden (Bourne Supremacy, Mr. Bean) and Serbian star Rade Serbedzija (Batman Begins, Mission: Impossible II), as well as Italian actors Thomas Trabacchi (Studio Battaglia) and Elena Rusconi (“Under the Earth 6”).

Production, which began on July 25, is slated to continue through June next year. The series is shot on location across Hungary and at the state-owned Mafilm Studio complex outside of Budapest, which has hosted productions such as Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, Paramount’s Terminator: Dark Fate and Netflix’s The Witcher. The last kingdom.” “We use all that the land has to offer,” Dornhelm said.

The director, who was nominated for an Oscar for the 1977 documentary The Children of Theater Street and has directed numerous indie feature films, likened working on the lavish production to an artist painting on a giant canvas for the first time “What I saw today is overwhelming,” he said diversity, after a visit to the set. “It’s 275 crew members, 80 horses at 105 degrees in metal uniforms. It’s madness It’s incredibly big, dusty, hot, exciting. It really is a huge production.”

For a country used to hosting blockbuster studio productions – including Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two, which began filming in Budapest last month – Rise of the Raven represents a turning point in the growth of Hungary’s industry. “It’s different from when I came back to Hungary almost 20 years ago to do films like ‘Being Julia’. We were the only filming in the country,” Lantos said.

The bar has been raised, and with the beta geared up to deliver Rise of the Raven to the world in late 2024, Hungarian filmmakers will have a chance to showcase their talents like never before. “I think it would be nice to reach a level where people around the world can admire what Hungarian filmmakers are capable of,” Szász said. “We have this amazing historical story… and it would be very nice to let them know about that story in a unique and equally high-quality way.” That’s what we strive for.”

Pictured: Elizabeth Szilagyi (left) and Gellért L. Kádár Crimes of the Future Producer Robert Lantos on Rise of the Raven

Charles Jones

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