The program for the 16th Verzió Film Festival is now official

This year’s Verzió Film Festival, held November 12–17, will showcase 75 documentaries from 46 countries. The highlighted sections are Anthropocene, Growing Up, and Media, the 4th Estate. Besides a wide selection of exciting films, there will be plenty of Q&As, discussions and a masterclass for those fascinated by human rights’ issues.


The Anthropocene is, at the very least, an unpleasant phenomenon. The global effect of human activity over the last decades has transformed the planet in an incomprehensible and irreversible way. Today it’s the climate, our resources and the survival of countless species that are at stake, not to mention, our right to live.

The 9 documentaries in the Anthropocene section reflect on responsibility and the need for change. We can clearly see that humanity faces fairly complex issues, and that the solutions on offer too often get caught up in commercial interests and personal profit—varying from the global food industry and agriculture (Soyalism, Sheep Hero), to building corporations and housing policy (Breathless, Push), mining and wood production, and other resource-exploitive industries (The Siege, Earth, Timbo). We can also witness change as a result of responsible actions, the willingness to cooperate, and the innovative use of human and natural resources (Fair Traders, When Tomatoes Met Wagner). Screenings serve as triggers for discussions about individual responsibility, the best consumer and production practices, and long-term effects and sustainability. 

In connection with Push, the festival welcomes activists Lubo Kurthy and Ivanka Uhrikova as guests, as well as Enrico Parenti, the co-director of Soyalism, and Daniel Lambo, the director of Breathless, all of whom will be present for Q&A discussions with the audience. 

This section is sponsored by the LUSH Charity Pot, the Representation of the Flemish Government, the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Embassy of Switzerland, and with the cooperation of Greenpeace Hungary.

Media, the 4th Power

The Media the 4th Estate section reveals 7 fascinating documentaries that critically observe the different forms of media—the printed press, television, internet-based media—and their mechanisms, covering the requirements for media-related ethics, objectivism and public service.

The festival’s opening film, Colectív, shows how a small group of investigative journalists unveiled the corruption behind the Romanian health care system following a tragic fire in 2015. Novaya Gazeta has been the most vocal independent newspaper in Russia since the 1990s, but has had to pay a high price for its investigative reports. Novaya displays the daily realities of independent journalism in Russia. The Newsroom is about the Danish tabloid, Ekstra Bladet, and how it strives to stay on the media market using increased coverage of scandals and sensations. In The Dazzling Light of Sunset an ultra-low-budget news team in rural Georgia guides the audience through a kaleidoscope of local news stories. Hacked tackles the phenomenon of media hacking, and also provides a snapshot of a young Central European democracy and its press relations in the early 2000s. In an era of fake news and alternative facts, the role of open source investigations has increased—this is at the very core of the “citizen investigative journalist” collective, Bellingcat. People’s Republic of Desire leads us into the online showrooms of live streamers in China that have become virtual gathering places for millions of fans. But what are the mechanics of this bizarre, online idol competition?

During the festival, the award-winning director of Novaya, Askold Kurov, who elaborated the story of Sacharov-prize winning Oleg Sentzov in The Trial, will hold a masterclass. In cooperation with Central European University’s Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS) Institute, professional panel discussions will provide a platform for debating the role of investigative journalism and the latest economic models of sustainable media.

This section is sponsored by the Embassy of the Netherlands.

Growing Up

Young people, in particular, have a hard time with growing adversities, but they are increasingly protesting the actions of the older generations who have sacrificed their future in the hope of immediate profit. The 11 films of the Growing Up section examine the different coping mechanisms that occur at various stages of growing up in all corners of the world: in the Arctic tundra (How Big is the Galaxy?), in a Buddhist monastery in Malawi (Buddha in Africa), in an America doomed by racial and ethnic prejudice or facing the pressure of social media (Minding the Gap, Jawline), or as an activist protesting school closures in Brazil (Your Turn). We get to know the dilemma of a Chinese family turning to Confucian teachings (Confucian Dream). We enjoy the openness of kids marveling at religious pluralism in Brussels’ Molenbeek district (Gods of Molenbeek). We track down youngsters spending their last bright summer together before entering adulthood with all its problems (Transnistra), or the Hungarian sisters carrying the burden of professional athletes (Above the Line). We follow two girls growing up in a remote Georgian village from where men leave in huge numbers to fight in Syria (Before Father Gets Back). And we stay with an Iranian man and his day-dreaming son in the “transit zone” at the southern border of Hungary (Fish). 

The festival will welcome the producer of How Big is the Galaxy?, Max Tuula, the director of Buddha in Africa, Nicola Schafer, and the director of Above the Line, Anikó Mária Nagy.

UNICEF Hungary is the cooperation partner for the Growing Up section. 

The Films of Student Verzió

Student Verzió invites high school students to free film screenings and discussions. This year, 5 films were selected to choose from: a teenager builds an online following to escape a dead-end life in small town America (Jawline), a Canadian teen activist spends a decade fighting for the climate (Youth Unstoppable), a Palestinian girl who grew up in a refugee camp undertakes the intense training to become a policewoman (What Walaa Wants), a heartwarming story of a former member of the mafia training a young Roma boxer towards a professional rather than criminal career (Ghetto Balboa), and the Sri Lankan pop icon, M.I.A., who has no fear of standing up for important and divisive causes (Matangi / Maya / M.I.A.). 

Kids Jury

This will be the second year for the Kids Jury at Verzió. Supported by UNICEF Hungary and the student volunteers of the Hintalovon Child Rights Foundation, the Kids Jury selects the best documentary film for high school students from the Student Verzió program.

The youth program of the 16th Verzió is supported by the European Parliament.

Sharpen your Perspective
Budapest – November 12–17

Debrecen, Kecskemét, Pécs, Szeged, and Szombathely, in cooperation with Open Spaces – November 21–24
The 16th Verzió Human Rights Documentary Film Festival is supported by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union.