Screen Memories. Representations of State Socialism and 1989 in Screen Media

Between 20 and 26 November 2014, an international film festival and conference entitled Screen Memories. Representations of State Socialism and 1989 in Screen Media took place in Budapest. Organized by our team member László Strausz, assistant professor at the Institut for Art Theory and Media Studies, in collaboration with the Goethe Institut and the Polish Institute, this double event focused on the various ways screen media have contributed to the production of memories of socialism. While the film festival showcased recent feature films and documentaries from the countries of the former Eastern Bloc about the socialist era, the conference proposed an interdisciplinary conversation on the role of screen media in the creation of memories about state socialism. The keynote speakers offered three different approaches to the topic of the conference: Rainer Rother, the director of the Deutsche Kinematek presented and interpreted amateur photos and films documenting the revolutionary event of 1989, in a talk entitled Moments in Time 1989/90. Catherine Portuges (University of Massachussetts, Amberst), author of books on cinematic memories of the Holocaust, in her talk Retracing Holocaust Memory in Hungarian Filmmaking presented a genealogy of Hungarian filmmakers preoccupied with the representation of the Hungarian Holocaust, from Géza Radványi to Diána Groó. The third speaker, Ewa Mazierska (University of Central Lancashire), author and editor of several books on Eastern European Cinema, presented an overview of post-communist cinemas, with the main focus on Polish cinema, in a talk entitled History and Memory of State Socialism in Polish (and other) Postcommunist Cinema. Panel topics included Soviet/Russian Remembering, Outcasts and Taboos, Gender and Body, Repetitions and Nostalgia, Visuality and memory, Comparative Remembering and Mnemonic Techniques in Cinemas. Six team members attended the conference with presentations: Balázs Varga (Rock around the block: Postsocialist Nostalgia and Recent Eastern European Cinema), Teréz Vincze (Remembering Socialist Bodies – Picturing the body in Hungarian cinema after the fall of communism), Zsolt Győri (White Lies, Dark Heritage: Nostalgia and the Search For (New) Illusions in Post-Socialist Hungarian Cinema), László Strausz (Realism and modernism in remembering – methodological observations on the new Romanian cinema), Mónika Dánél (with Stephan Krause: ‘Has it taken place or not?’ – Figurations of ‘Romanian’ and ‘German’ 1989) and Hajnal Király (From Amnesia to Active Recalling: Representations of Memory in Contemporary Hungarian and Romanian Cinema). The presentations were followed by animated discussions that opened new perspectives to the research area of screen memories. It is planned that the papers of this high quality conference will be published in a follow-up volume.

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