Hot Men Cold Dictatorships
(documentary, 97min., 2015)
Young Hungarian gays explore the personal dramas of elderly gay men who lived in Communist Hungary.
Has the situation of gay men improved since the fall of communism or homophobia is even worse today?
Our one-and-a-half-hour-long creative, socio-documentary shows – with the help of 7 protagonists’ life stories – what it meant to be a gay man before the political „transition” in Hungary. The topic is pursued by 4 young gay guys. The personal experiences uncovered and the secret service files excavated reinterpret the past 50 years from the vantage point of the present-day social and legal context. Until today no film has been produced in the former Eastern bloc that would deal with the generations of older and younger gay men. Nor one that would investigate these life stories with the help of the files of the previous political regimes.
Until today no film has been produced in the former Eastern bloc that would deal with the generations of older and younger gay men. Nor one that would investigate these life stories with the help of the files of the previous political regimes. We consider it important to record them these life stories before the 60-something gay men leave with them. It is also exciting how the young gay guys who appear in the film as the researcher film crew discuss what they hear through their personal experiences and via interpreting social conventions.
The audience is confronted with primarily two things: first, that s/he barely knows anything about these East-Central European community and their micro-histories; second, that through his/her silence or rather indifference s/he was part and parcel of the individual and power techniques that afflicted the individual or the community.
Our film investigates how the personal stories of gays living Hungary as well as the incumbent regimes’s attitude to the gay minority have changed from the days of Communism until today. The historical relevance and topicality of the film is underscored also by the social and legal situation of today’s gay community in Hungary. For example while the country of the former “gayest barracks” used to stand for Paradise in the (benevolent) eyes of the other Eastern European gay men, Hungary’s latest round of legislation has resulted in a step backwards vis-à-vis the earlier democratizing changes. Legitimizing public homophobic speech in both politics and the public sphere is a very bad message, hindering the acceptance of the gay minority community and their harmonious cohabitation with the majority society.
Historical and social background:
The essence of a political social system can always be best understood through the excluded groups. Male homosexuality – as opposed to lesbian women – is much more conspicuous, extravagant, society also considers them “more problematic.” It is the 50-plus generation of gay men who take the lead: intellectuals, employees, service workers, artists navigate through the
“thin air” of the 1950s then the detente-like milieu of the ‘60s-70s-80s, some of whom became activists later on, the founders of the Hungarian gay movement. Due to their disparate social position they see the same system from different vantage points, yet they experience silencing their identity and the restriction of their personal lives in a similar fashion.
Each interview sheds light on the points of connection with “grand politics”. Out of the overarching triad of toleration-ban-support, the Kádár regime allocated the existence and various life worlds of gay men to the category of “tolerance”, strictly speaking. Entertainment venues popular amongst gay men (the Egyetem bar, the Kis Rabló pub, the Diófa, the so-called boat parties, City Park, the Danube cruising park) had also served as a point of assembly to observe and monitor the elements alien to the regime. Invisibility and surveillance therefore intertwine in a curious fashion: gays are both a source of danger and a means of control for the regime.
Most of the stories represent precisely the documentation of clashes, fears, submissions or confrontations with the outside world. The personal and the cultural layers are thus constitutive of each other. Personal stories are inseparable from society that surrounds them or from any of its segments. Ambiguity, conflicts, transgressions, the confusion of “being different” are defining processes, as is the negation of that difference or its collective-building power that can later become the main sanctuary of identity.
(Since these entertainment venues gave space also to lesbian women, with the complicity of co- dependence they were often where the alibi marriages that could be presented to the family or at the workplace were made as one form of the false compulsion to measure up to external expectations.)
This multiply complex and unique cross section also showcases the process through which the topic that used to be treated as a taboo had after the transition become part of public sphere. Greater social-political visibility unfortunately does not always necessarily coincide with stronger acceptance. As far as the stimulus threshold and tolerance are concerned, as the past years’ gay pride marches show most spectacularly, we are witnessing a reorganization that tightly follows the status of larger society.
Through the reminiscence of our interview subjects, the remembering of both the younger generation of gays as well as the majority society is being transformed. The young react with their own stories to those of the older generation, and their opinions yield the temporal and spatial dynamics of “being gay – then and now”. The guys who were born and raised around “transition” request the files of their elders from the domestic archives, as they attempt to collectively render these intelligible and empathetic for the larger audience.
Documentary 90 min, HD, 2015
HOT MEN, COLD DICTATORSHIPS
MELEG FÉRFIAK, HIDEG DIKTATÚRÁK
Director, writer: Mária Takács
Producer: Julianna Ugrin
Director of Photography: Klára Trencsényi, Michel, István Szőnyi, Márton Vízkelety
Editor: Éva Palotai
Sound: Péter Almásy
Cast: Milán Banach Nagy, Gábor Halmai, Péter Hanzli, László Láner, Michel, Ádám Nádasdy, Balázs Pálfi, Attila Pálos, Ferenc Rakiás, Gábor Takács Bencze, Zoltán Tölgyesy
Music by: Jiri Kaderabek
Cinematography by: Michel, István Szőnyi, Klára Trencsényi, Márton Vízkelety
Film Editing by Éva Palotai
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Magdi Timár
Production Management: Péter Kárpáti, Ágnes Seregély, Hajnalka Vajay
Art Department: Péter Klimó, Györgyi Jacsó
Sound Department: Péter Almásy
Visual Effects by Mikul Mácsai
Editorial Department: Benedek Kabán, Viktor Ligetfalvi
Additional Crew: Ildikó Szücs
Stand photography: Tea Erdélyi, Katalin Holland
Consultant: Dr. Judit Takács, Dr. Gyöngyi Schwarcz, Dr. Eszter Zsófia Tóth
Supporters: AK Köln AIDS, Árvai A Péter, Brit Nagykövetség, Česká Televize – Czech Television (CT), ERSTE Foundation, Filmjus, Háttér Archívum, Humen Magazin, Indiegogos támogatók – Supporters through Indiegogo, Labrisz Leszbikus Egyesület, OSIFE, Pride.hu, Tony Robinson, Trut Fonds, Amsterdam, Verzio DocLab, Wizard, 4CUT POST DIGITAL
Production company: Éclipse Film, Civil Művek
Premier: Budapest Pride week
July 6, 2015
12th VERZIO International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
November 11, 2015
4th Hungarian Film in San Francisco Film Festival, San Francisco
San Francisco, USA
November 14, 2015
World Documentary Awards, Jakarta
January 18, 2016
4th LGBT History Month, Hungary
February 24, 2016
2nd Hungarian Filmweek
March 5, 2016
11th SEEFest South East European Film Festival Los Angeles
Los Angeles, USA
April 28, 2016
Buzz Cee International Film Festival
Buzau , Romania
May 5, 2016
Wales International Doc Fest
Blackwood, Wales, UK
May 12, 2016
August 5, 2016.
October 12, 2016.
Louisville International Festival of Film
October 13, 2016
November 24, 2016
Ro Q Doc
November 27, 2016
December 13, 2016
January 24, 2017
Belfast Human Rights Filmfestival
Belfast, Northern Ireland
History Film Festival
Eastern Neighbours Film Festival
COURAGE-PAREVO International Documentary Film Festival
Budapest, Varsó, Bukarest, Berlin