Hungary through Hungarian Cinema

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Course Title: 
Hungary through Hungarian Cinema 

Instructor: 
György Báron, György Kárpáti

Duration: 
Weeks 1-14, 2x2 hours/week, 4 credits

Short Description of the Course: 
This course gives an overview of the history of Hungarian cinema, presenting the most important films and the most important artists.
Using films as points of reference, questions of Hungarian history, society and culture will also be touched upon. 

Aim of the Course: 
Students get acquainted with some of the most outstanding feature films produced in Hungary. After a short introduction to the earliest years of filmmaking in Hungary, works produced during communism as well as more recent films made after the democratic transition will be screened and discussed. 

The course will also introduce the current trends in contemporary documentary filmmaking that concentrate on presenting various aspects of the life of the poor in Hungary, with special attention to Roma and other ethnic minorities. Another trend of films presents typical or extraordinary stories from the present (e.g. how young people struggle to find their place in contemporary Hungarian society, etc.). 

Method of Instruction: 
Students will be encouraged to collect experiences on their own and to prepare short accounts of filmmakers to be discussed in class.
Parts of films mentioned will be watched as illustrations during the discussions.
Guest speakers will be invited from various fields of filmmaking (directors, cinematographers, producers, etc.) to talk about the contemporary scene and to answer questions.
Screenings will be held of Hungarian films with English subtitles once a week. These sessions will be open to the whole AIT community.
 

Detailed Program and Class Schedule: (2x2 hours/week) 

Week 1
Introduction. The perception of film. Myth, dreams and reality on the screen. Film and history, film and society. The beginning. The first picture shows and the first studios in Hungary. Films and filmmakers during the Councils’ Republic in 1919. Film and propaganda. Hungarians in Hollywood. The first and the second generation of immigrants. How East Europeans built up Hollywood. Zukor and Fox, the founding fathers, Kertész, Korda, Pressburger, de Toth who made Hollywood and the British Film big.

Film: My Twentieth Century (Ildikó Enyedi)
(Casablanca, Michael Curtiz)

Week 2
Hungarian cinema between the two World Wars. The long silence in the twenties. Talkies in the thirties and the early forties. The “white-telephone” movies. Light melodramas and comedies. Film noirs and femmes fatales in the forties. The Hungarian neorealism: People on the Alps.

Film: Hyppolit, the Butler (István Székely)
(Car of Dreams - Béla Gaál; People on the Alps - István Szőts)

Week 3
The Coalition Years. The division of the film studios among the political parties. A humanist masterpiece before the nationalization: Somewhere in Europe by Géza Radványi. The nationalization. The third generation of immigrants: István Szőts and Géza Radványi. The fifties. Propaganda-films in the stalinist era.

Film: The Witness (Péter Bacsó)
(Somewhere in Europe – Géza Radványi)

Week 4
After the revolution. The détente and the new cultural policy of the Kádár-regime. The swinging sixties in Europe and in Hungary. New forms, new styles, new waves. “Look back in Anger”. The trilogy of Miklós Jancsó: The Round-Up, Silence and Cry, The Red and the White). The language of flowers and metaphors. The ambiguity of past and presence, dreams and reality, memories and facts in the works of Károly Makk.

Film: Love (Károly Makk)
(Round-Up – Miklós Jancsó, Another Way – Károly Makk) 

Week 5
The young generation of filmmakers and moviegoers in the sixties. The new cinematic language. The fatherless generation. Facing the past and the heritage of parents in Szabo’s first Trilogy: Age of Daydreaming, Father, Love Film.

Film: Father (István Szabó)      
(Age of Daydreaming, Love Film - István Szabó, Current – István Gaál)

Week 6
The children of the revolution. The second fatherless generation. The new lifestyle. Rockmusic, Coca Cola and blue jeans. The kids of Marx and the Coca Cola (Godard).

Film: Time Stands Still (Péter Gothár)
(Dollybirds – Péter Timár)

Week 7
The lost illusions: 1968. The fall of the Prague Spring and the students’ revolt in Paris. The emerge of new conservativism. Censorship and “self-censorship” in the sixties and in the seventies.

Film: Lost Illusions (Gyula Gazdag)
(The Whistling Cobblestone – Gyula Gazdag; Another Way – Károly Makk)

Week 8
After the shock of 68. What happened to the great generation? The seventies and the eighties. New tendencies: documentarism and experimentalism in the Béla Balázs Studio.

Film: The Great Generation (Ferenc András-Géza Bereményi)
(American Torso – Gábor Bódy; A Priceless Day – Péter Gothár)

Week 9
The small generation. Rebel with(out) a cause. The eighties.

Film: The Little Valentino (András Jeles)
(The Wall Driller, Light Physical Injuries – György Szomjas; Full Day – Ferenc Grunwalsky) 

Week 10
The political changes in 89/90. From paternalism to democracy. The second new wave of the Hungarian cinema.

Film: Moszkva tér (Ferenc Török)
(Bolshe Vita, Chico – Ibolya Fekete) 

Week 11
The new generation of the XXI Century. Escapism, new sensibility: Kornél Mundruczó, György Pálfi, Szabolcs Hajdu. The cinematic language of Béla Tarr.

Film: Taxidermia (György Pálfi)
(Hukkle – György Pálfi; White Psalms, Bibliothéque Pascal – Szabolcs Hajdu; Delta - Kornél Mundruczó; Dealer – Benedek Fliegauf; Satantango – Béla Tarr)

Week 12
Losers of the changes. Closed factories, dead cities.

Film: Ózd (Tamás Almási)
(The Videoton Story – Pál Schiffer; Damnation – Béla Tarr)

Week 13
Roma and other ethnic minorities in the Hungarian cinema. From Cséplő Gyuri to Vespa.

Film: Cséplő Gyuri (Pál Schiffer)
(Vespa – Diana Groó)

Week 14
“This is a men’s world”. Women, sex, gender on the screen from the fifties to the present. The films of Márta Mészáros and Ágnes Kocsis.

Film: Adoption (Márta Mészáros)
(Nine Month – Márta Mészáros; Fresh Air, Adrienn Pál – Ágnes Kocsis)   

(Films that will be mentioned and partly watched during the classes are in brackets.)

Suggested reading:
Cunningham, John: Hungarian Cinema from coffee house to multiplex, Wallflower Press, 2004
Petrie, Graham: History Must Answer to Men (Corvina, Budapest, 1978)
Gelencsér, Gábor ed.: Hungarians in Film, Filmesek a világban, Magyar Filmunió Budapest, 1996
Bazin, André: The Ontology of the Photographic Image, The Western or the American Film par excellence (in: What is Cinema Vol. I.-II. University of California Press, Berkeley, LA, London, 1971)

www.kinokultura.com Special Issue 7 – Hungarian Cinema (February 2008)

 

Editorial:
Catherine Portuges: “Contemporary Perspectives on Hungarian Cinema”

Interviews:
Susan Suleiman: “On Exile, Jewish Identity, and Filmmaking in Hungary: A Conversation with István Szabó
Catherine Portuges: “A Conversation with Gyula Gazdag

Articles:
György Báron: “Dead Sea Scrolls: Hungarian Documentaries Before and After the Political Changes”
John Cunningham: “Jenö Janovics and Transylvanian Silent Cinema”
Kristian Feigelson: “The Labyrinth: A Strategy of Sensitive Experimentation, A Filmmaker of the Anonymous”
David Frey: “‘Why We Fight’ Hungarian Style: War, Civil War, and the Red Menace in Hungarian Wartime Feature Film”
Beverly James: “Character Subjectivities in Films about the 1956 Hungarian Revolution”
András Bálint Kovács: “The World According to Béla Tarr”

Reviews:
John Cunningham: Csaba Bollók’s Iska’s Journey (Iszka utazása), 2007
Peter Hames: Ágnes Kocsis's Fresh Air (Friss Levegö), 2006
Anikó Imre: Áron Gauder’s The District (Nyóckér!), 2004
Steve Jobbitt: Nimród Antal’s Kontroll (2003) — Subterranean Dreaming: Hungarian Fantasies of Integration and Redemption
Ivan Sanders: Tainted Art: On István Szabó's Taking Sides (2001)
Ivan Sanders: Oversexed, Overstuffed, Over the Top: György Pálfi’s Taxidermia (2006)

Grading Principles: 
Grading will be based on class participation and activity at the sessions.
 

Instructors' bio: 

György Báron (born 1951) is a full professor at the University of Drama, Film and Television, Budapest and is president of the Hungarian Society of Film Critics within FIPRESCI. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of several institutions, including the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation, the Visegrad Documentary Library and the European Parliament Lux Prize Jury. Since the 1970s he has published more than thousand reviews, essays and studies, both in Hungarian and other languages. He has made educational documentaries for various television channels and he is the author of the books Hollywood and Marienbad and Descent to the Underworld. He received a Béla Balázs Prize, a Mihály Táncsics Prize, an Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic and a Necktie Prize (voted for the best teacher of the University).

György Kárpáti (born 1979) holds a PhD in communication and is an assistant professor at Pázmány Péter Catholic University within the Institute of Communication and Media Sciences. He teaches courses on subjects within the field of communication as well as film. He is the regular film critic and correspondent for Magyar Nemzet, Hungary’s second biggest national daily. He is the vice president of FIPRESCI, The International Federation of Film Critics and the secretary of the Hungarian Society of Film Critics. He participated in FIPRESCI juries around the world including Palm Springs, Montreal, Moscow, Kerala, Yerevan, Kyev, Torino and Geneve. Dr. Kárpáti has authored and published several books and has many articles which appear in journals and magazines focusing on film and cinema.

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