When I was asked to open the 2017 Verzio Film Festival, I started to think about what documentaries mean to me. At first, I saw speaking heads. Close-ups of faces. Unavoidable looks that cannot be wiped out of memories. Sándor Sára’s portraits of the soldiers of the second Hungarian army. Pál Zolnai’s piece Fotográfia, Hosszú futásodra from Gazdag Gyula, documentaries from Werner Herzog and Nick Broomfield, or films that I’ve seen at the Verzio, just to mention a few: Joshua Oppenheimer: The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence, Tonje Hessen Schei: Drone. A story of the near past: the location scout of the Narcos season four was shot. The 37-year-old man was shot in his own car multiple times as he was looking for an authentic location to shoot the series depicting the story of the Mexican drug cartels.
Recording reality has tremendous power. So big that fictional pieces almost can’t compete with it. Not only because in the era of mass information flow we can access visual material in a fraction of a second from all over the globe, but also because in the wold of feature films dominated by the dazzling digital technological solutions, or the conservative-realist storytelling ,the complexity and the multidimensional portraying of reality is slowly lost.
We all feel that the new possibilities of constant documentation are also creating new narratives. That the mass information and orientation, the documents created by a faceless crowd are demonstrating for diversity and the freedom of thought, and against the one-sided mass information.
Interestingly, while all information is available, we’re able to record a long list of moments of our lives like never before, and give voice to our standpoints, we can feel isolated from each other while communicating with millions of people. Locked in our own worlds, the meeting point with the different, other people, other opinions has disappeared.
We have to take a step. The era we live in challenges us to no smaller acts than to rethink the social norms we live according to. The European civilization has sprung a leak. We do not have a response ready for the changes of the relationships between men and women, we don’t have a response ready for how to integrate the migrants, we don’t have a response ready for understanding the extreme political turns. There’s no doubt, this is all a trial. But undoubtedly one that will enrich us.
In my opinion, in such an iron-age like ours, the honest credibility of documentaries is gaining more and more relevance. We can hear voices via the portrayal of personal stories and trustworthy viewpoints, that so far have been out of our earshot. The ones that aren’t reflecting our opinions, that are opposing our beliefs.
Kertész once said: to reveal the contradiction is the truth. The good documentaries are inviting us to do so. Here and now. Live in the present! Enjoy the festival, enjoy the opposing opinions!
Finally, I shall open the festival.