Roma Visual Lab 13. (2023)

1. Film: Anja and Jolika

Representation and authenticity in the film industry have recently become an increasingly important issue. Issues that have previously been less in the public discourse, such as racism, sexism or other forms of discrimination, are receiving more attention. In the spirit of diversity, from 2024, only films with a certain proportion of minorities in the cast and crew will be eligible for the Oscars in the live-action category. The quota system, which has been fought for by activist organisations for decades, has, of course, also been vociferously opposed by some, who claim artistic freedom and that they do not want to have their creativity constrained by a set of criteria. The change has already made waves in Hungary. Here, too, an effort has begun, and the results are already being felt. More and more people are choosing amateur actors, even as protagonists, authentic locations for their films, and scriptwriters who bring their own experience to the table.

Films: Jolika (Zsuzsa Debre, 2020), Ania (Benő Baranyi, 2020).

Guests: Ms Oláh Jolán Vidák, Zsuzsa Debre, Benő Baranyi. Hosts: Andrea Szucsik, Hanna Dorka Balogh

2. Media: Image of the Roma in independent (non-state) media in Hungary

The candle burns at both ends – The journey of Roma primary school children and young Roma graduates

For the third year in a row, we have organised a Roma Visual Lab programme entitled „The Roma image of independent (non-state) media”. In 2021, we started with a Telex video on education and the debate that arose from it, and in 2022 we discussed Roma (and non-Roma) politics in Hungary, based on a Telex video (Partisan) and a Free Europe video. This year we return to the topic of education, approached from both ends. Primary school children from segregated backgrounds and graduated Roma youth will be discussed in the two videos and afterwards at the roundtable on the opportunities and media coverage of the issues.

Films: Videos of Partisan and Telex.

Guests: Adrienn Balogh journalist, Ernő Kadét journalist, Norbert Szirmai journalist, Gyula Galyas journalist, Klára Gulyás cultural anthropologist, Zsolt Horváth influencer. Hosts: Emese Mészáros, Lili Sárközi.

3. Art Project and Pop-up Exhibition: “How did I find out?”. Identity and Stigma Management

The art-based project „How did I find out…” explores the commonalities and differences between the concealment and acceptance of third-generation Jewish and Roma identities after the Shoah/Pharrajimos (Pharrajimos). This project analyses, among other things, the different coping strategies that this generation used to confront their own origins. One would think that the present generation has grown into its own cultural identity in a kind of natural way, whether it is religious or ethnic consciousness, cultural traditions, family customs or some mixture of these. Or we might think that all these things are naturally handed down to them by their families and their environment, and are taken on board by the society in which they live. The project is based on this line of thought (Zsuzsi Flohr).

Video: On the Ground: the Possibilities.

Guests: Zsuzsi Flohr artist, Andrea Ausztrics editor, Andrea Kóczé sociologist. Hosts: Éva Darányi, Júlia Hóka.

4. Documentary: Serial murder of Roma people

In 2022, Máté Fuchs’s documentary film Unprocessed, which explores the racist serial murder of Roma, which could be classified as an act of terrorism, was shown in a stage production. On the one hand, the film follows the process of theatrical staging the series of murders, thus becoming a testimony to a unique experiment, an artistic representation of the unrepresentable. On the other hand, the film directs the viewer’s attention again and again to a rational analysis of the unthinkable, as the theatrical process is punctuated by interviews with experts who followed and analysed the investigation into the series of murders. Thus, two kinds of theatre meet in Unprocessed, one is the “theate” theatre in the literal sense, the other is investigative theatre, the staging and dramatisation of evidence. Both in their own way struggle for some reparation that the victims never actually received. The Unprocessed is introduced by a video by Eszter Neuberger and Balázs Pivarnyik, filmed by journalists with survivors of the serial murders (Abcúg).

Documentary: Unprocessed (Máté Fuchs)

Video: “Commemorations mean nothing to Roma survivors”. Video by Eszter Neuberger and Balázs Pivarnyik.

Guests: Máté Fuchs filmmaker, Zoltán Kékesi researcher. Hosts: Bálint Katona, Anna Flóra Sándor.

5. Film: Three Thousand Numbered. The Open Backstage programme takes place in collaboration with We Are Open collective and Roma Visual Lab.

A theatre director puts on a show about the lives of five young Roma people who have fallen on hard times. The play tells the real story of their lives with unvarnished cruelty: he trades on their misery. When the production is invited to a prestigious German theatre festival, the group is forced to confront their past and fight racist stereotypes. Three Thousand Numbered is the company’s surreal journey, blurring the boundaries between fiction, absurdity and sociographic reality. Can we talk about race without racism? Is the mutual hatred of minority and majority necessary? The theatrical performance of Knowledge Power. Gypsy Hungarian was received with great critical and audience success in Hungary and was invited to the renowned Deutsches Theater in Berlin. The director adapted this earlier play into a film and won the special prize of the „Rebels with a Cause” section at the Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival. Császi’s debut The Tempest Towers was screened at the Berlinale, won numerous awards and was shown in 14 countries; his new film is especially recommended for fans of Ruben Östlund and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Guests: Ádám Császi filmmaker, Kristóf Horváth actor, Zsuzsa Debre creative casting manager (Ethnic Talents), Dezdemóna Kovács actor, Vigh Martin film critic. Hosts: Panni Horányi, Panna Kenderes.

6. Visual anthropology: Kamill Erdős exhibition in the Museum of Ethnography

Introductory text to the exhibition: „Kamill Erdős, who died young, became interested in the gypsies of Békés County and later in Hungary in the 1950s. Only three of his studies were published in Hungarian during his lifetime, and slightly more in English and French. His legacy of photographs, tapes and manuscripts is kept in the Erkel Ferenc Museum in Gyula. This legacy has remained unprocessed, despite the legends surrounding Kamill Erdős, and the Gyula museum has tried to keep his memory alive with an exhibition, a conference and the publication of his studies, while the data he published are highly valued by Hungarian ethnographic research. He spoke several varieties of the Romany/Gypsy language perfectly and was well acquainted with the internal laws of this culture. He was thus able to record authentic ethnographic material at a time when Gypsy communities were still closed, suspicious of strangers and fearful of photography, as a consequence of centuries of exclusion. The exhibition attempts to give voice to this legacy through a variety of methods. The poorly recorded images are juxtaposed with studies, manuscripts and sound recordings. We try to reconstruct Kamil Erdős’ research methods, to understand the fraternity he felt towards people on the margins of society. Our aim is also to dust down the legacy not only and not primarily for the benefit of Hungarian ethnography, but to take it back to the communities where Kamill Erdős once visited and which he captured with such special empathy in his photographs.”

Guests: Paréj Gabriella curator, Veronika Schleicher curator, Péter Szuhay curator. Hosts: Márti Gettler, Flóra Németh.

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