Lately it happens that I mix up the number of the house. It happens to you too, doesn't it? You ring the bell. They look out. You're lucky if you can get away without a kick in the ass. Wrong number. Then again to err is human. But to err permanently. What do you call that? Dangerous? No, worse than that, it's stupid!
People! Have you noticed, that you have gathered here against a world tendency?
You are watching movies? What? What movies?
You talk, you talk? About? About what?
Oh, that freedom, equality, solidarity. Why don't you quote the original! Go ahead!
Liberte, egalite, fraternite - ou la mort.
Yes, yes - these three principles - or death.
Do you know Salman Rushdie? Hindu, Muslim. He wrote a book. You knew that right? The Satanic Verses.
They put a bounty on his head, searched him everywhere. He's still alive. But his friends?
They set a hotel on fire in Turkey where writers supporting the publication of the Satanic Verses were staying. Those who tried to escape the clapping crowed hunted them back into the flames where 36 of them died eventually. (I was quoting Gabor Halmai now)
So what do you think? You are still willing to go on? Yes?
You want to be different? Diverse? Free? You want to voice the truth because you believe that was the reason of your birth?
Oh, you were born too late! Or too early!
The new tsunami of a new era is on your shoulders. Yes it's right behind you! Oh, but you are still facing the wind? I can only congratulate you on that. You and your friends.
Yes, and a last one. I am with you. I'm with you all. And let me whisper this to you: we may not be alone. On the contrary. We may even be multiplying. We are more and more. Right?
I wish you all good luck. Good luck, that's all I wish you!
The desire to see
The desire to see the difference between the world of imagination and reality is one of the deep-rooted traditions of our culture. The once invisible God of the Old Testament, who had revealed himself only through sacred texts, became visible and accessible as a mortal human being. The Word became flesh. Those for whom seeing is believing, became witnesses of the life, suffering, sacrifice and death of a human being, whose story is one of the most powerful archetypes of historical account as opposed to fictional narratives. The Gospels are allegories about the urge to see, to be convinced and converted through documented, authentic accounts.
Our first portraits are imprints: purportedly faithful copies of the face that shows the invisible by means of the visible. The earliest icons are, allegedly, but duplicates of authentic documents of the Mandylion and Veronica's cloth, which preserved the true face without human intervention. The originals are not made by human hand; they are documents beyond subjective intervention. The supposedly objective, mechanical, thus authoritative images are marshaled to affirm the authenticity, historicity of the story of the passion and redemption; the reality of our own sufferings and ultimate hope. The Shroud of Turin, with all the untainted signs of the Passion - with the help of a fantasy of referentiality - is looked at as a document of the scene of a crime, as if it were a contemporaneous documentary film: it is no wonder that the Shroud is referred to as "the fifth Gospel".
The Verzio human rights documentary film festival is a late descendant of this tradition of the documentary, related to passion and compassion: human suffering, human dignity, human rights. The selected films and the concept of the festival reflect in a self-conscious and not naive way the distinction between reality and imagination. The films, according to the intentions of the curators, try to show the invisible by the help of the visible, the real face beyond the surface.
Director, OSA Archivum
The Third Version
This year's documentary film selection for the Verzio festival awaits those interested in reality films during the second week of November, 2006. 47 new films in the main program, four of which - plus an archival compilation about the 1956 Hungarian Revolution - feature in the Student Verzio, while two are on the agenda of the Teacher Verzio. A further 15 film classics about the Spanish Civil War feature in the Retrospective. Many of these films are acknowledged internationally, others have not yet been discovered by documentary film festivals. 33 of the 47 films are Hungarian movie premieres. Besides the Toldi cinema, the Örökmozgó Film Museum and the OSA Archivum, the Budapest Holocaust Memorial will become a festival venue this year.
We are honored that Verzio 3 will be opened by Miklós Jancsó, who celebrated his 85th birthday in October 2006. God bless him! Following Árpád Göncz, former president of Hungary and Gyula Gazdag, in 2006 the tone of the festival will be set by an acclaimed Hungarian film director. We are also honored that, for the third time, Verzio is operating under the auspices of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.
The festival is accompanied by two photographic exhibitions. The Czech human rights organization People In Need brings a selection of photographs to the Toldi cinema. These images document the daily lives of people living in crisis spots in our days. The Open Society Archives (OSA Archivum) introduces a Swiss traveling exhibition: a selection of photographs from the Magnum Photos archive, entitled etre, The Face of Human Rights. These images are close-ups of people abused, deprived of their rights, living in war zones or under political repression or subsisting in hopeless poverty.
As before, film festival visitors will assign the Audience Award. This year for the first time a Duna Television Award is on offer. Also for the first time, the Best Hungarian Film is to be awarded by Daylight Productions. Verzio hopes these awards will become established traditions.
Verzio has five and a half Hungarian films in its contemporary program this year. The latest film by Róbert Lakatos, titled Moszny is an intimate portrait of a lonely man who is neither able nor willing to come to terms with with his urban life, since he refuses to move into a block of flats in Cluj Napoca. Just as in his earlier works Lakatos uses cinéma vérité style to draw an intimate portrait of his characters. The second film is by another well known director. In his latest documentary, Stork Story, through close ups of two women - one about to give away the child she never wanted, the other about to adopt the baby - György Dobray manages to portray the inner conflicts that originate in the process of open adoption. In his investigative documentary The Face Of The Revolution Attila Kékesi goes in search of a Budapest girl, once a revolutionary, known from the inside cover page of the 10 November 1956 issue of Paris Match. Besides the personal faith of the heroine, we experience the environment, traumas and suffering that awaited emigrants to Western Europe and overseas in 1956. The film also documents the search for historical truth. In his documentary Border-line Case Péter Szalay also traces a historical- political event. In August 1989, an emigrant from East Germany, while illegally crossing the Austrian border, was shot dead by a Hungarian guard. A month later the Iron Curtain fell. The film investigates not only the family tragedy, but brings the times when it happened closer.
The film Terminus by Gábor Péter Németh also highlights a trauma. The wars in the former Yugoslavia ended ten years ago, but its consequences still afflict the most defenseless: 25 one-time inmates of a mental hospital from Bosnia still live in the Debrecen refugee camp: they long to go home, but they're trapped. The next film, a Dutch-Scottish-Hungarian co-production called The Angelmakers, is not so much of a revelation, since these arsenic murders, a total of 162 cases committed by women in the Eastern part of Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century, are already well documented. The film is rather a sociological look at how the descendants come to terms with the heritage of their grandmothers. Join us to see the reality films of Verzio 3. Our aim is to evoke sympathy and bring us all closer to human suffering, hoping that the power of images will enable us to act.
Welcome to Verzio3!
Choosing diversity as our guiding principle, we present exceptional stories and universal problems, visual experiments along documentaries that have become classics of their own genre, award-winning films and debuts which have yet to start their international itinerary. The catalogue opens with a new thematic block: Life and Death. These two fundamental experiences are faced on the daily basis by people living with fatal diseases and those in life-endangering conditions, such as runaway children from abusive or alcoholic families (The Children Of Leningradsky, Before Flying Back To Earth, I Never Want To Be Famous). We meet women for whom the death or disappearance of relatives and friends are inseparable elements of the war experience in Chechnya (Coca - The Dove From Chechnya) as well as those who are forced to perform abortions in line with the demographic policy in China (The Secret Of My Success). White Terror introduces to us racist subcultures in different parts of the world who use the pretext of their own survival to justify discriminative and aggressive ideologies. All these films reflect on the basic human right to be defended and supported: the right of every human being to life. Freedom of movement is another fundamental human right reflected upon in the Border-Case block: the problems range from those of refugees and working migrants (Tarifa Traffic, New Penelope) to the social and psychological difficulties of integration into a different society (Here We Are, Terminus). I am happy to invite you to an hommage to Kim Longinotto, one of the most prominent documentarists today, famous for her unique combination of an active personal stance with attentive observation. Four films from Longinotto's extensive filmography are part of the Trans/Sex thematic category, all bringing into focus people who challenge their societies and stand up for their personal freedom of choice - Japanese transsexuals, Iranian teenage runaway girls, Cameroonian women suffering domestic violence. Another new category Global-Local presents documentaries that reflect on the ongoing changes in today's world. Featuring Georgian villagers, Chinese railway workers, Azeri oil producers, Bolivian miners, and South African manual laborers, these films promote awareness of emerging new problems and tolerance towards cultural diversity. Along with the remote sites, our program has a panorama of East-Central European documentaries: four award-winning films from the Czech Republic, three films from Poland, one from Slovakia, and an important example of cooperative investigation into the Vukovar tragedy undertaken by a Serbian filmmaker and a Croatian journalist. Six Hungarian films from recent years are representative of the thematic and stylistic variety of documentary filmmaking in Hungary.
At the 'festival crossroads' we meet the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, known to everybody in the documentary world as IDFA. Eight award-winning films that were premiered at IDFA are part of our joint program this year. The retrospective program is devoted to the memory of the Spanish Civil War, which profoundly transformed the world as well as our ways of dealing with war imagery. I hope the diversity of the program will bring old and new Verzio friends to the cinemas this year. Stay tuned!
Verzio festival crossroad: IDFA
A documentary festival is a well-chosen place to map out our fast-changing world, to take a step back and examine social developments - without being swayed by the hype. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam first took place in 1988 and by now is the largest documentary festival in the world. IDFA is unique for its largely international film programme, the variety of genres showing there, its politically committed programme and the many European and world premieres featured each year. Aside from the festival, IDFA consists of three other components: the Jan Vrijman Fund, the FORUM and Docs for Sale. All of these were established in order to improve the international climate for creative documentaries. The Jan Vrijman Fund offers support to documentary projects and festivals in developing countries, the FORUM is Europe's biggest co-financing market for international documentary productions, and Docs for Sale is an international documentary market where buyers, sales agents and distributors can see a selection from the best creative documentaries of the past year. Together, these activities have propelled IDFA to its current, topranked status within the world of creative documentary cinema.
IDFA program at Verzio exemplifies a thematic, geographic, and artistic diversity, and yet the issues raised in these films have a sense of urgency. The audience is invited to see a series of unsentimental portraits of today: children learning to live with incurable desease or traumatic war memories (Before Flying Back to Earth, The 3 Rooms of Melancholia), daily confrontations between Isreali soldiers and Palestinians (Checkpoint), Georgian villagers whose lands are about to be taken over by an advancing oil pipeline (The Pipeline Next Door), a Dutch family coming to terms with a severe handicap of their close relative, the once successful cellist Tobias Prenen (I Never Want to Be Famous), last witnesses to the arsenic murders in Nagyreve (The Angelmakers), and a forty-year-old transsexual fighting her emotional and physical struggle (The Person de Leo N.). The selection also includes one of the films produced with the help of the Jan Vrijman foundation: The Immortal is a close up of a family caught in the crossfire at Contras and Sandinistas clash in Nicaragua and still haunted by memories of the war.
A good documentary touches the viewer: he or she is shaken awake, shocked or maybe even pleasantly surprised. The power of a film to communicate with its audience is essential at IDFA. Documentaries at IDFA stimulate people to reflect, discuss and ask questions.