Opening: Nine Month War

Antónia Mészáros, head of UNICEF Hungary, opens the 15th Verzió Film Festival on the 6th of November at Trafó. The opening film, Nine Month War, is a documentary by László Csuja, and was awarded in Sarajevo.

The only Hungarian human rights documentary film festival will be launched for the 15th time on the 6th of November. The 15th Verzió presents a compilation of the best documentary films from recent years, in Budapest, November 6–11th, and in Pécs, Szeged, and for the first time, in Kecskemét, November 15–25th.

This year Antónia Mészáros, head of UNICEF Hungary, will open the festival. Antónia Mészáros started her career as a journalist for the Hungarian daily, Népszabadság, worked several years for the BBC in London, and was a presenter and editor for the popular “Este” news program on MTV. From 2011 she worked as an anchor and editor for ATV, on shows such as “Egyenes Beszéd”. She has served as the Executive Director of UNICEF Hungary since 2017. The Hungarian office of UNICEF organizes awareness and educational campaigns for recognizing, respecting and protecting children’s rights. They have partnered with Verzió to work on a children’s rights program.

The opening ceremony of the 15th Verzió Film Festival will once again be held at the Trafó House of Contemporary Arts. The opening film will be the Hungarian premier of László Csuja’s first documentary,  Nine Month War The film is a coming-of-age story of a boy from Transcarpathian Ukraine: Jani leaves his family to serve in the Ukrainian army; while his mother misses her son, Jani is looking for independence. Csuja made this documentary parallel with his first fiction film, Blossom Valley, which won the Special Jury Prize of the Sarajevo Film Festival.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the director, László Csuja.

A limited number of tickets are available for the Opening Ceremony of the 15th Verzió Film Festival. More information is available on the  TRAFÓ website.

Hungarian Documentaries at the 15th Verzió Film Festival

Bernadett Tuza-Ritter’s film, A Woman Captured, promises all the excitement of a thriller. It is one of many stories of modern-day slavery. Maris, the protagonist of the film, was kept as a household slave by one family for a decade. After more than a year and a half of filming, the director gained the trust of Maris, who decides to escape. This shocking piece is the first Hungarian documentary feature selected for the Sundance Film Festival. The film debuted at the IDFA in Amsterdam, and then started an international festival tour, during which it picked up several prestigious awards. It was awarded the Best Documentary Award of the Hungarian Film Critics. The film is distributed by ELF Pictures in Hungary.

Easy Lessons is Dorottya Zurbó’s (The Next Guardian) film about a 17-year-old girl who, as a child, ran away from an arranged marriage in Somalia. Since then, Kafia lives in a home for children in Budapest, and prepares for her secondary-school-leaving exams. She learns Hungarian, starts modelling, and works besides school. The film tells us, in microsituations, how the girl leaves behind almost everything that was an important part of her childhood identity in order to become a European adult. Despite the ironic title, the film is touching and was nominated to the Critic's Week section of the Locarno Film Festival, as well as to the program of the Sarajevo Film Festival. The film is distributed by ELF Pictures in Hungary.

Granny Project is a witty, insolent, and extraordinary road movie. Three college students and their grannies—an English spy, a Nazi sympathizer, and a Holocaust survivor—travel through the history of the 20th century. Bálint Révész shot this film for seven years, hoping to emphasize the importance of dialogue with the older, disappearing generation. The film is distributed by ELF Pictures in Hungary.

Edie - Dance for Mengele is a documentary by Eszter Cseke and András S. Takács, creators of the On the Spot series. This film is about a renowned American psychologist who kept a dark secret to herself for decades; on the day her parents were murdered in Auschwitz, she had been forced to dance to the “Blue Danube Waltz” for Joseph Mengele, the dreaded concentration camp doctor. She recognizes that to help others process their traumas, she must first face her darkest fears.

Don’t Stare at Me! In Dávid Balla’s film, five women talk in an inclusive theater about their desires, femininity and how to find their place in life. We learn about their differences, what they think of other people, of theater, and how these are related to being born healthy or disabled.

Your Name is about the members of the Saint Giles Catholic Community who help those in need. The film, directed by János Domonkos, attempts to give insight into the service of the members itself (their motivation, the difficulties they face and the joy the service brings them) through the lives of three homeless people. The members of the community know that these people are full of controversies, but they believe these can be resolved through friendship and love.

The troops of the Warsaw Pact occupied Czechoslovakia in August of 1968. The Occupation 1968 documentary project deals with these events, introduces us to the soldiers of the “friendly” armies, and explains their experiences, thoughts and tasks related to the occupation in a collective-subjective way. The Hungarian short in this compilation, Red Rose, was directed by Linda Dombrovszky.

In the new film of Gábor Zsigmond Papp (Spies in a One Horse Town, Two against Paris),  Country Divided, 20 well-known Hungarian artist—10 (assumed) right-wing and 10 (assumed) left-wing liberal writers, directors, actors and musicians—talk about Hungary’s political transition and  the 30 years following it. Featuring: Róbert Alföldi, György Dörner, Károly Eperjes, György Fekete, Ádám Fischer, Marcell Jankovics, Imre Kerényi, Zsuzsa Koncz, György Konrád, Gábor Máté, Ádám Medveczky, Katalin Mezey, Lajos Parti Nagy, Gergely Péterfy, Géza Röhrig, Sándor Sára, György Spiró, Levente Szörényi, Géza Szőcs, and Béla Tarr.

KARMAS/BAGázs, the new film of Flóra Chilton, presents the work done by the Bagázs team at two Roma settlements in Pest County. The organization was founded by sociologists and lawyers hoping to make a positive impact on these two communities. Since their appearance, some community members have started to believe that with common efforts their seemingly hopeless situation can be changed.


15th VERZIÓ International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
Budapest: 6–11 November 2018.
Toldi, Művész, Kino Café, Blinken OSA, CEU, Trafó
Pécs, Szeged, Kecskemét: 15–25 November 2018.