Private Project

Budapest Inferno: The Secret of the Molnar Janos Cave

Life on Earth is fed by sunlight - so one could think that the lack of sunlight means no life at all. The truth is just the opposite: a closer look reveals that most dark caves present wildlife in abundance. Recently cave divers and biologists have found previously unknown species under the picturesque capital of Hungary. The Molnár János Cave, the largest underwater thermokarst cave in Europe, has many more secrets to store. Following decided explorers BUDAPEST INFERNO reveals the never before seen underground wonders of Budapest and the deepest secrets of evolution.

  • Balazs Lerner
    Budapest Underground
  • Gergely Balazs
    Operation Mayfly
  • Balazs Lerner
    Budapest Underground, Operation Mayfly
  • Gergely Balazs
    Budapest Underground, Operation Mayfly
  • Attila David Molnar
    The Invisible Bird Photographer, The Macaw Kingdom
  • Zsolt Marcell Toth
    The Invisible Bird Photographer, Budapest Wild
  • Zsolt Sasdi
    Sharks in my Viewfinder, Giants of the Ocean
  • Zsolt Marcell Toth
    The Invisible Bird Photographer, Budapest Wild
  • Balazs Tisza
    The Macaw Kingdom
  • Peter Rusko
    Budapest Underground, Operation Mayfly
  • Marton Szekely
    Budapest Underground, Operation Mayfly
  • Balazs Lerner
  • Gergely Balazs
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Science, Adventure
  • Runtime:
    50 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 28, 2017
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Mexico, Peru, Sudan, United States
  • Language:
    English, Hungarian
  • Shooting Format:
    Full HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Speleo Film Festival
    November 24, 2018
    First Place
  • Wildlife Vaasa Film Festival
    September 29, 2018
    2nd place (Science Films)
  • International Wildlife Film Festival
    United States
    April 18, 2018
    Official Selection
  • PhotoDiversity Film Festival
    New York, New York
    United States
    March 21, 2018
    Best Science Feature
  • International Underwater Film Festival Belgrade
    December 16, 2017
    Special Award
  • CIMASUB International Festival of Submarine Films
    Donostia-San Sebastián
    November 16, 2017
    Barandilla de Bronce
  • Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam
    October 28, 2017
    Newcomer Award
  • International Scientific Film Festival
    October 13, 2017
    Special Jury Prize
  • Docs Without Borders Film Festival
    United States
    October 16, 2017
    Award of Outstanding Excellence
  • International Festival of Diving Films and Photographs
    High Tatras
    October 7, 2017
    2nd place
  • IFF Water, Sea & the Ocean
    Czech Republic
    September 16, 2017
    Best Diving Film
  • NaturVision Filmfestival
    July 15, 2017
    German Premiere
    Best Film Music
  • Aranyszem Cinematographer's Festival
    Best Science Documentary
  • International Nature Film Festival Gödöllő
    May 26, 2017
    Hungarian Premiere
    Grand Prix
  • PAF TACHOV International Festival of Underwater Photography & Film
    Czech Republic
    March 24, 2017
    World Premiere
    2nd place (Professional Diving Films)
Distribution Information
    Country: Worldwide
Director Biography - Balazs Lerner, Gergely Balazs

Balázs Lerner is an anthropologist and storyteller. After studying biology, archeology and anthropology he worked for several NGOs in Central Europe and in Africa. He authored several books on Africa, history and religions. He is currently working as a scientific editor for SPEKTRUM TV, a Hungarian documentary/infotainment TV channel. As an enthusiastic scuba diver he worked on underwater films in Sudan and Mexico but he mostly enjoys cave diving under his hometown, Budapest.

Gergely Balázs is an evolutionary biologist and award winning filmmaker with a strong interest in cave fauna. His scientific work focuses the phylogenetic research of cave crustaceans and the analysis of vision and orientation of cave dwelling animals. As a professional cave diver he is involved in scientific and exploratory work from Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Yucatan Peninsula. With a strong interest in science communication, in the last decade Gergely tried all sorts of positions in the film industry ranging from being a field assistant to directing feature documentaries.

Since 2013 Gergely Balázs and Balázs Lerner has been working together as writers, directors and editors of informational and campaign videos, scientific video abstracts and nature documentaries. The features they worked on include:

Operation Mayfly (2016)
Budapest Inferno (2017)
Underwater Wilderness: Sudan (2017)
The Adventurous Life of the Diving Bell Spider (2018)
Inverse Everest (2019)

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

The film tells the story of a surprising scientific discovery with exceptionally cinematic images of cave exploration. Besides explaining the genesis of thermokarstic cave systems we are focusing on the biological research in the cave. We follow the discovery of new species in the middle of a metropolis and explain how the integration of new generation sequencing methodologies with traditional taxonomic and ecological methods help elucidate the unique characteristics and evolutionary history of the cave's fauna. We are also investigating how alternative metabolic pathways could integrate to the foodchain in a hydrothermal environment.
According to our knowledge, this is the first science documentary covering chemosynthesis in caves and comparing it to the deepsea ecosystems – with extraordinary footages from both isolated environments.
Thanks to our partners (Texas A&M University, Department of Marine Biology, Florida International University, Bracken Grissom Lab, University of Bremen, MARUM Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences, USGS Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Centre, etc.) we could cover the latest research results. Besides science we also put great effort to cover the thrilling adventure of underwater cave exploration and cave mapping in a cinematic way.