Logline: 11 Hungarian lesbians’ lives over the Iron Curtain

Short synopsis:
Hungarian women between 45 and 70 years of age talk about „the secret years“ : Their lives as lesbians under Communism and ever since. Stories about the repression of the 1960s and 1970s, the emerging subculture and alternative scene of the 1980s; the political movements for minority rights of the 1990s, up to the present, where democratic values are being threatened by nationalist violence.

Long synopsis

Many Hungarians still think that before 1989 no Gay and Lesbian life in Hungary existed, as socialist society forced Lesbians and Gays into a life of secrecy and invisibility.
Hungarian society is still very hostile towards minorities and “difference”; in public discourse, someone who is recognizably “different” cannot speak for or represent the whole of society. However, we are convinced that an authentic reflection of any given political and social system can be found by looking at that system’s marginalized groups.
Our documentary surveys the generations of lesbians in Hungary that lived, and continue to live, a closeted existence since the 1960s (with few acquaintances and in limited company), and those generations that – thanks to freedoms afforded by the 1989 collapse of Communism – have increasingly more open and accepted lives. Their life stories will acquaint the audience with both the former system’s crippling methods of asserting power over the individual and communities, and with the freedom accompanying the post-communist transition. What had been a taboo topic prior to 1989 gradually has entered into political discourse; but in recent years, visibility brings on new challenges too.
No Hungarian documentary has yet dealt with this subject matter. This film will compensate for a blind spot not only in the public’s awareness of the former Communist system, but will also strengthen the identity of the lesbian community and other minorities by extension.

“Secret years” in the context of the political situation in Hungary 2009:
For over 14 years, Budapest Gay Pride and Festival was a peaceful cultural event, attracting LGBT * and supportive straight visitors. It created a space for information exchange, dialogue and celebration. In 2008, grand scale ultra right-wing attacks gave the LGBT community and broader Hungarian society reason for concern.
A nationalist ideology is becoming increasingly promoted among the general population of Hungary, according to which homosexuality is still an abomination and disease, genuinely foreign to the Hungarian people – a Western import, violently imposed on the country after 1989 as a by-product of a free-market economy. LGBT visibility is (again) perceived as a provoking the majority, and freedom of opinion is monopolized by those expressing this narrow minded nationalist opinion, resulting in violence and the throwing of eggs (many rotten or filled with acid), stones and molotov cocktails during Budapest Pride events. Not everyone in Hungary shares these views, but they are becoming increasingly promoted again.

We are convinced in times like these, that our project fills an essential gap not only for our community, but also a blank spot in the memory of Hungarian and international society.

Trailer and film

Production details

Year & country of production: 2009, Hungary
Duration / lenght: 90 min
Color / b&w: color – black and white
Shooting format: HDV
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Dialogues: hungarian
Subtitle: english
Sound format: 48khz


Main cast & crew

Producer: Mr. János Vészi
Director: Mária Takács
Director of Photography: Klára Trencsényi
Editor: Éva Palotai HSE
Reporter: Gyöngyi Schwarcz
Sound: József Pótári, Péter Almásy
Script consultant, research: Katrin Kremmler
Assistant: Magdi Timár
Translator: Ágnes Molnár
Cast: Bíró Csilla, Bán Mari, Gál Ilona, Hidasi Magdi, Timár Magdi, Gordon Agáta, Lovas Nagy Anna, Szabó Judit, Kis Márta, Szineg Ildikó, Schmied Gerda

Photos Secret Years

Critics-reviews // Festivals

09. October 2009. Art Cinema, Budapest Hungary
03. December 2009. Grand Cafe Cinema, Szeged Hungary
01. May 2010. Pink Apples Festival, Zürich Switzerland
01. May 2010. South-East European Film Festival – Los Angeles USA
08. May 2010. Central European University, Budapest Hungary
08. September 2010. Balaton Filmfestival, Keszthely Hungary
19. September 2010. Ladyfest, Berlin Germany
01. October 2010. LGBT filmfestival, Bratislava Slovakia
16. October 2010. International Ethnograpyhy Filmfestival, Belgrad Serbia
25-30. October 2010. East Silver Docmarket, Jihlava Czech Republic
06. November 2010. 7th Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Budapest Hungary
14-15. October 2011. Art in Action, Novi Sad, Serbia
11. October 2011. TRANZYT III. International Documentary Film Festival, Poznan, Poland
24. June 2011. Domrosa e.V.”Frauenzentrum Weiberwirtschaft” LGBT Festival, Halle, Germany
11-13. June 2011. LFT Festival, Rostock, Germany
7. May 2011. Untold Stories exhibition and conference, Tallin, Estonia
20-30. June 2019. Performing Queer Histories and Futures, HAU, Berlin, Germany