Love him or dislike him, then, you have to give him this: nobody since the change of political regime has put the Hungarian film scene into motion like he did. Vajna, whose success came through producing a dozen "blockbusters" including action films such as the first three "Rambo"s and "Terminator 3", was made head of the Hungarian Film Fund in 2011.

It was the Orbán government’s hope that in developing the national film industry he would earn it world fame. And under his management, not only did the volume of films made leap fivefold but films such as "Son of Saul", "1945" and "About Body and Soul" were indeed global successes. Under his tutelage, Hungarian filmmakers bagged more than a hundred international awards, as seen on the website of the Hungarian Film Fund, including two Oscars, a Golden Globe and a Golden Bear.

András György Vajna was born in 1944 in Budapest. After the 1956 Uprising failed, he left his home country at the age of 12 and passed through Canada to the USA. He spent his youth in California, attending university. Although he was already interested in the film industry as a student, Vajna always went where he smelled good business: he opened a photo shop, founded a wig-making company in Hong Kong and operated a cinema.

In 1976 he and Mario Kassar established the independent film studio Carolco Pictures, which produced several "blockbusters" by the mid-1990s. In 1989 Vajna sold his shares and founded his own film production company, Cinergi Pictures Entertainment Inc. Although it produced a few hits, such as the third part of the "Die Hard" series and the musical "Evita", it was dissolved in 1997. In 2002 Vajna partnered up with Kassar again to found Studios C-2 Pictures, and produced among others "I Spy", "Basic Instinct 2" and the third part of the "Terminator" series.

During his years in Hollywood, Vajna did not forget his home country. He repeatedly brought film shootings to Hungary and in 1989 he founded his first private film distribution company, InterCom, which is still number one on the market. In 2007 he bought his share in the new Korda film studio in Etyek. In 2010 he and actor Robert De Niro opened the first Nobu restaurant in Central Europe.

Vajna always said of himself that his "passion is giving back", in particular to the land where he was born. He managed to do so in 2011 when he was appointed to lead the Hungarian Film Fund. Vajna distanced himself from the Hungarian films of the 1990s and 2000s, which were thought to be too abstract in many parts of the world. He favoured making more commercial films for a broader audience.

As a businessman, critics looked askance at some of his dealings, such as buying the private TV2 television channel and Radio 1 radio station with credits financed from state-owned banks, and the acquisition of the Las Vegas casino chain. He was known to be a good friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, thus earning his oligarch status.


Tributes

Vajna worked with numerous international stars, including director Oliver Stone, actors Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Samuel L. Jackson, and pop singer/actor Madonna. His death earned international sympathy.

Schwarzenegger, the "Terminator", wrote on Twitter that he would miss " … a kind friend and a revolutionary force in Hollywood". He said Vajna had proved that you don’t need large studios to produce action hits. "He also had a big heart and was one of the greatest people ever."

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Numerous Hungarian stars, such as actress Kata Dobó, who used to be Vajna’s partner for many years, voiced their sadness on diverse online portals.

Fidesz press representative Balázs Hidvéghi reacted: "Many thanks for everything that you did for the success of the Hungarian film. The results speak for themselves. We will miss you!"

Orbán remembered their lengthy friendship with a photo on Facebook showing the two men together, accompanied by the words "Hasta la vista, Andy! Thank you for everything, my friend!"

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