The film is based on a documentary novel written by Gyula Krúdy in 1931. Krúdy used the infamous story of the Jewish blood libel in Tiszaeszlár, a village in northern Hungary. A young girl, Eszter Solymosi, disappeared in the summer of 1882, and the Jewish inhabitants of the village were accused of having killed her as part of a ritual murder. The writer got material for his book by collecting information from the recollections of the lawyer who represented the Jews who had been accused and from his own memories, rooted in oral tradition, as he grew up near the scene of the events.
The basic framework of the film is the coaching given by an officer in the gendarmerie office to Móric Scharf, who gives false testimony the text of which is identical to the testimony given at the trial. We see versions of the same sequence, each fo which has shifted a little bit in comparison to the previous one as the coaching continues. The filmmaker’s radical gesture is to give the viewer an opportunity to see how the protagonist's mental process develops until it reaches the final state, in which he is able to see the crime. Erdély casted László Rajk, the son of an executed communist leader, for the part of gendarmerie officer Recsky (Rajk’s father was executed by his own communist comrades following a show trial during the period of communist terror in Hungary).
Another key component in Erdély’s film is the way in which he makes the actual materials used in the creation of the film visible. For example, the mental images are shot from the editing table, so they are grainy and obscure comparing to the other scenes. The end credits section is a kind of withdrawal of the provocative images, since the actors stop playing their parts and present themselves as real people, “as civilians,” and doing so somehow negate the fabricated story (and the images of the ritual murder) presented earlier. Upon completion in 1981, the film was banned
Produced by BBS, 1981. Banned until 1989.
At the Memorial to the Revolution in Timişoara may be seen Lorenţ Fecioru’s vest with the holes made by the bullets that killed him and the traces left by their victim’s blood. This object with a profound emotional charge was donated in 1999 by the mother of the hero-martyr. The material traces of the violent death of this young man are symbolic for all the young people who, with the recklessness and courage of youth, took part in the Revolution of 1989. At the same time, the manner in which he met his death is illustrative of the repression that followed in the days immediately after the outbreak of the popular revolt in Timişoara. Along with over 1,000 others, Lorenţ Fecioru is a martyr of the bloody events that led to the change of regime in 1989 and one of those to whom all Romanians are indebted for the freedom that they enjoy today. It is a civic duty of all Romanian citizens to preserve their memory, a duty that the Memorial has taken upon itself to pass on to generations who did not experience the Revolution of 1989.
Lorenţ Fecioru was one of those who, alongside the poet Ion Monoran, took part in the stopping of trams in Maria Square on 16 December. He died in the night of 17–18 December from the effects of a bullet fired by a sniper straight into his heart. In the public documents issued after the Revolution of 1989, it was initially stated that Lorenţ Fecioru was shot on the steps of the Cathedral of Timişoara. The facts, however, are otherwise, albeit equally tragic. Two decades after the tragedy played out, Lorenţ Fecioru’s youngest son related for a national newspaper what actually happened to his father: “My father was shot by a sniper in the night of 17–18 December. In the Securitate files photographs have been found that were taken during the day, when my father and some of his colleagues from work went out into the street and climbed onto tramcars, onto buses. I understand that in the file is written ‘mission accomplished.’ He was on the balcony with his friends that evening, telling them that he had seen when the photographer took pictures of them and that he was afraid to go out onto the balcony. The moment he went out onto the balcony he was shot. I saw the bullet that killed him, because he was shot in the heart and the bullet came out through his back and ricocheted off two walls in the house. His friends took him to the morgue, and by ‘good fortune’ they found a coffin, otherwise he would have been incinerated like the others.” This version is confirmed by researchers at the Memorial to the Revolution. Gino Rado, the vice-president of the Memorial, mentions that Lorenţ Fecioru was on the balcony at his home on Calea Şagului in Timişoara when he was fatally shot. The vest donated by the family of the hero-martyr Lorenţ Fecioru is on the same ground-floor level of the building of the Memorial to the Revolution in Timişoara, very close to the corner dedicated to the child-martyr Cristina Lungu.
- Timișoara, Romania
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Video interview with Embiya Çavuş, an artist working with ceramics, painter and Bulgarian dissident. Now he lives in Izmir.
Embiya Çavuş was born in 1926 in the village Todor Ikonomovо (former name Mahmuzlii, Turkish Mahmuzlu), Shumen district in Bulgaria. He and five of his friends established the secret “Organisation of Defending Turkish Existence and Personality”. Accused of creating a secret Turkish organization and espionage in favor of Turkey, Çavuş was sentenced to life imprisonment and spent sixteen years, from 1947 to 1961, in different prisons and in the forced labor camp in Belene (1949–1956). However, in 1961 he was conditionally released. In 1964, after an amnesty law was passed, Çavuş was granted amnesty. In 1965 Çavuş began to work as a porcelain expert in a porcelain factory in the small town of Novi Pazar, Bulgaria. As a porcelain artist, he visited Poland in 1974 and the USSR in the years of 1976, 1977. In 1978, in the framework of an emigration agreement between Bulgaria and Turkey, Embiya Çavuş moved to Turkey and settled in Izmir.
Embiya Çavuş has double citizenship, Bulgarian and Turkish.
The second issue of the magazine Viks, entitled “Homosexuality and Culture,” came out on April 24, 1984, the opening day of the Magnus Film Festival, the first cultural manifestation dedicated to homosexuality in any socialist country. The magazine was edited by a group of gays and lesbians who gathered around the youth cultural center ŠKUC and organized the festival. This special edition of the magazine was printed in 600 copies and handed to audiences at the festival. It contains 42 pages, and approximately 20 illustrations with contemporary, easily recognizable European gay subcultural motifs. Over the three following decades, this issue of Viks gained a cult status in Slovenian and the post-Yugoslav LGBT community, and was exhibited at events dedicated to the history of homosexuality and the LGBT movement.
Alongside the festival’s program and a schedule of affiliated cultural and club events, in an effort to appeal to the younger generation of Ljubljana’s gays, lesbians and artists, Viks also carried several lengthy programmatic articles and interviews with emancipatory, educational and mobilizing overtones. Thus it aligned itself politically and theoretically with contemporary liberationist, leftist and counter-cultural movements in Slovenia and Western Europe. These texts promote an ideal of freely and openly lived (homo)sexuality. Non-normative sexual practices were viewed as strongly dissident in nature, but not so much against socialism as against patriarchal and traditional forms of sexual and family life.
The article “Pink Love under the Red Stars – Homosexuality under Real Socialism” (“Roza ljubezen pod rdečimi zvezdami – homoseksualizem pod realnim socializmom,” pp. 18-21) delivers a historical overview of the legal and social status of same-sex sexual and emotional relationships in socialist countries. The anonymous author is equally critical of the 20th century discrimination of homosexuality both in western liberal democracies and socialist countries. However, the Stalinist period in the USSR was seen as especially brutal and arduous insofar as it attributed negative political meanings to homosexuality, declaring homosexuals “traitors,” foreign “spies,” decadent bourgeoisie, and enemies of socialism. Soviet homosexuals, the article suggests, were not able to recover from this traumatic period, and were still unable to engage with emancipatory social movements and practices. At the same time, the example of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, known also as East Germany) is held as an example of both positive changes in communist stance on homosexuality, and a way in which, since the late 1970s, a dialogue could take place between the government and gay and lesbian groups.
The Croatian State Security Service's operational data from the mid-1950s contain descriptions of the connections of Djilas supporters in Zagreb (the group around the banned weekly newspaper Naprijed) to the brothers Stevan and Vladimir Dedijer. Vladimir was editor-in-chief of the newspaper Borba at the time of publication of the Djilas articles. After a suspended year and a half sentence, he withdrew from political life and in 1955 emigrated to the United States. From 1950 to 1957, Stevan was director of the Nuclear Research Institute in Belgrade and the Rudjer Bošković Institute in Zagreb. Because of his public criticism of the Yugoslav nuclear programme, he was expelled from the Rudjer Bošković Institute, and in 1961 managed to emigrate to Sweden.
The documents in the Croatian State Security Service's file on the Djilas case and Djilas supporters in Croatia include a transcript of Vladimir Dedijer's open letter to Josip Broz Tito. Dedijer protested against the prosecution and arrest of Milovan Djilas due to an interview in which he criticised the neutral position of Yugoslavia on the Soviet army’s intervention in Hungary, which he saw as tacit support for that action. He was arrested on 19 November, and on 12 December 1956 convicted to 3 years of strict imprisonment for “anti-Yugoslav activities.ˮ Dedijer wrote, inter alia, that he is not defending Milovan Djilas as his personal friend, but rather because he has to stay “consistent in his conviction that they have to promote more democratic and humane forms” in Yugoslav society, that he cannot act against his conscience, defending in this way his personal integrity as a writer and intellectual.
The document is available for research and copying.
- Zagreb Trg Marka Marulića 21, Croatia 10000
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