Hungary

Hungary was clearly the freest country of all and it was not a problem to film virtually anything. In a country which had lived through its conflict with Moscow as early as in 1956, a new generation of politicians grew up in the meantime, and the system changed and became more liberal. The ruling party was falling apart, it had essentially lost its leading role and the opposition demanded its share in power. We came across a tremendously wide range of opinions; people spoke very openly and even held demonstrations in front of the parliament buildings, a phenomenon totally unimaginable in the surrounding countries. We were assigned an official female guide, who was supposed to supervise us while we were shooting, but we could go wherever we wanted. There was only one drawback. By that time, the regime had already permitted private business, and we had to pay for everything. Not only for archival materials, that’s quite normal, but also for filming in factories, at party meetings, in the newsroom of the pro-regime newspapers, and for shooting in a restaurant. We could have almost anything we wanted for money, including the Hungarian communist militia, or Fidesz, then an independent youth movement, so I did an interview with Viktor Orban in 1988. By the way, that was for free; the regime did not take the new movement too seriously. It’s a pity the recording has not survived. Most of all, however, we tried to show that one regime may have different faces, and to portray Central Europe as a living region where an interesting discussion was unfolding and an alternative culture was developing under the surface.

Jacques Rupnik

Interviews

Gábor Demszky

Gábor Demszky10. 12. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Gábor Demszky was born in Budapest, on August 4, 1952. His parents were economists; his sister Anna is a special education teacher. He married five times, and is a father of four. He graduated from Kafka Margit High School in 1970, and in the...

György Konrád

György Konrád12. 10. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

György Konrád was born on April 2, 1933 in Debrecen but spent the first eleven years of his life in Berettyóújfalu. His father was a wealthy iron trader, his mother came from a middle-class Jewish family in Nagyvárad, his sister Éva is a biologist...

Elemér Hankiss

Elemér Hankiss2. 7. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Elemér Hankiss was born May 4, 1928 in Debrecen. His father, János Hankiss was a literary historian and professor at the University of Debrecen. He graduated from Eötvös Loránd University as an Eötvös College student in 1950, he majored in English...

Dénes Csengey

Dénes Csengey10. 10. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Dénes Csengey was born on January 24, 1953 in Szekszárd. He was a writer, a poet, and a politician, who died young at the age of 38 in Budapest on April 8, 1991. He is known as one of the emblematic figures of the regime change in Hungary. He...