Month: March 2015

Attila – The Making of a Gangster

Attila – The Making of a Gangster


Attila – The Making of a Gangster is based on the novel, Szabad, written by Alan Duff, the author and screenwriter of Once Were Warriors.

The story begins in Budapest in 1956 where young Attila Szabo is a 20 year old university student. He wants to believe in the ideals of communism despite the constant propaganda, food rations, suffocating bureaucracy, and  secret police known as AVO.  When he witnesses the brutal death of his father, something in him breaks and he turns to a different way of being. He learns to be violent and cunning. Driven by necessity, he moves to London in 1963 and carves out a place for himself in a world populated by hardened criminals.

It’s 1956 in Budapest, Hungary. Attila Szabo, a 20 year old university student, faces constant communist propaganda, food rations, suffocating bureaucracy, and the secret police known as AVO. He wants to believe in communism, yet his instincts don’t. His beloved father, unjustly imprisoned, comes home a broken man. Witnessing his father shot dead in the street defiant to the end, something breaks in Attila. Not his will, but innocence. He sees the officials at exclusive restaurants and shops, wining and dining, citizens violently arrested by AVO, the bread queues, and he realizes it’s all a lie.

With his three close friends, Janos, Milan and Klaudia, they break into the homes of officials, mainly to steal decent food. A security guard, Tibor, sees Attila in the street, remembers stopping him in the upper-class neighbourhood. They come to an arrangement.

A beautiful woman, Aranka, her husband and child, move into the flat above the Szabos. Attila instantly smitten by the wife, and a mutual like of her five year old son, Stefan.

If only she wasn’t married. There are signs it’s not a happy marriage. Enter AVO colonel, Zoltan Friss, who’s soon had the husband arrested and regularly forces himself on her. Attila yearns to love her, but in a proper way. Doesn’t notice Klaudia’s jealousy of Aranka.

Friss shoots Attila’s father dead before his eyes. More reason to hate the man.

He acquires a gun, but who to use it on without putting his family and friends at risk? Aranka tells of her anger at Friss’ visits, of her unhappy marriage to an emotionless man. Friss nonchalantattila-hungarian-ffly informs Aranka that her husband was shot dead in prison when involved in a riot. She and Attila become lovers. She starts turning Friss away and he does not like it.

Tibor puts the burgling quartet onto a money trader’s house where they find a large sum of cash in U.S. dollars. A students protest march turns into the Revolution, a full-scale street war starting October 23rd, 1956. All of Attila’s anger – and Aranka’s – comes pouring out in an orgy of – justified – violence. He plays her pimp to lure Russian soldiers to their deaths. They sniper AVO from the rooftops, attack tanks with Molotov cocktails.

timecvrIn London 1963, the stolen money buys Attila first one pub then another. Business booms. Stefan gets into trouble at school, fighting. That brings in a cop, Des Stanford, who is corrupt and greedy. Attila’s Cockney girlfriend introduces him to criminal veteran, Freddie Holman, who sees off some shakedown thugs in violent fashion. A cop on the take gets hungrier. Attila and Freddie set up a card school in the basement of the city pub. It takes off.

His old friends from the past turn up, first Janos then Klaudia. She’s now a stunning, impressive woman.

His businesses drag him deeper into the underworld. At the end of Season 1, the notorious Kray twins pay a visit to his city gambling joint.





Blockbusters – By Andrew MacDonald

Blockbusters is a sweeping, one-hour crime drama series set in 1950s Chicago that mixes the urban grit of The Wire with the historical glaze of Boardwalk Empire.blockbusters2

The show’s two protagonists, Alex Drozda and Betsy Hughes, are from warring factions. Alex is the youngest son in a working class Polish family. Prior to finding a home in America, his family escaped from Poland during the turbulence of the Second World War. From there, the Drozdas completed a hardscrabble crawl to a blue collar, lower middle class lifestyle among other immigrants looking to make a home in Chicago. Betsy Hughes grew up in a primarily African American neighborhood, to a family that’s worked just as hard as Alex’s. The Hughes family came north during the depression looking for work, and though finding it, carried with them religious sensibilities of the south. Clarence Hughes, Betsy’s father, raised her and her brother Gabe as a single parent working full-time in the 1920s. Gabe, a veteran of combat in Italy, admires his father for keeping it together, seeing him as the embodiment of family-manhood. Betsy’s feelings about her father are dominated by the violence of his religiously informed “spare the rod and spoil the child” method of parenting.

Manipulating the action is sleeze bag real estate investor Jed Wilson (think Saul Goodman), whose ties to corrupt city alderman, Rudy “Ruddy” Thompkin, facilitates the breaking up of tight knit communities of whites by fanning flames of racist hysteria. Wilson’s game is blockbusting, the practice of introducing African American homeowners into previously all white neighborhoods in order to spark rapid white flight and housing price decline. The Hughes are one of the first families introduced in the predominately white neighborhood; the youngest Hughes, Roy, falls in with a group of thugs hired by Wilson’s capo, Oz Slopesy, who manipulates them into behavior that threatens the neighborhood. After the local orthodox church is torched, priest Garek Witek has decided to move his church to the suburbs – something Alderman Thompkin has the power to speed along, provided Witek to hastens the white flight. Witek’s grandfatherly exterior hides a wartime secret as a fascist sympathizer in Warsaw.

blockbustersThe story begins as the Drozdas resign themselves to living in a suburban house and running from the neighborhood. Things change, however, when Wilson’s network of thugs and intimidation goes too far and a much-beloved, tough-as-nails older neighborhood eccentric gets killed by Roy in a panicked moment of self-defense during an attempt at intimidation. The Drozdas garner support from other families, among them the volatile Bukowskis, to wage war on the looming “black menace”. Complicating matters is the secret relationship that develops between Alex Drozda and Betsy Hughes, who find themselves torn between their love for each other and their loyalty to their families. As the tension between blacks and whites escalates, the secret meetings between Alex and Betsy become more dangerous.

The two families caught up in the story are probably more alike than they’d like to admit. At it’s heart, Blockbusters is a love story between central characters Alex and Betsy, who must overcome cultural divides if their love shall prevail.

Blockbusters also interrogates the same themes America finds itself grappling with today: racial tensions, income inequality, the American dream of homeownership in a what feels like a rigged economy, and the manipulation of a city’s political climate for the profit of its elite, which in turn comes at the cost of the working class.

Finally, the show is about fear: how groups of people can be moved to do dangerous things when gripped by hysteria.


Find Me a Māori Bride

Find Me a Māori Bride


Comedy series from New Zealand, now available as a scripted format

Find me a Māori Bride follows the comic misadventures of Tama Bradley (Cohen Holloway), and his cousin George Alpert (Matariki Whatarau), a pair of successful, metrosexual Māori men, whose lives are turned upside down, when presented with a wero (challenge), by their late grandmother – find a Māori wife within 6 months, or lose out on inheriting the whānau farm, worth a whopping $47,000,000!