British Embassy Puts Human Rights On The Big Screen

A photograph exhibition was part of the British Embassy's Human Rights Movie Day

It was the middle of the day in the middle of the working week but the Budapest public turned out in good numbers at Toldi cinema for the 2nd annual Human Rights Movie Day presented by the British Embassy in Budapest.

A packed day of movies and discussion had been staged to mark the International Day Against Racism on Wednesday 14th March.

Having hosted a well-attended debut event the previous year, the British Embassy wanted to build on its success. As the men and women of all ages and ethnicities took their seats, the new British Ambassador to Hungary, Jonathan Knott opened the event by giving an introductory speech in Hungarian.

He then invited the crowd to the theatre where the opening film of Human Rights Movie Day would be shown – the Romedia Foundation’s “Szendrolad Confessions”.

Filmed in Hungarian with English subtitles, the documentary tells the story of how a young Romani boy was sent to a school for the mentally disabled but made it to university. He introduces us to a new wave of Romani intellectuals, full of ambition and belief thanks to the work of the Bhim Rhao Association.

An informed crowd exit the theatre after "Szendrolad Confessions".

An engaged crowd sat back, enjoyed the film and showed their appreciation with a warm round of applause upon its conclusion.

Afterwards a roundtable discussion was held with the film’s director and Romedia ‘s executive director Katalin Barsony, Angela Kocze of the Hungarian Academy of Science and Karoly Kalo the aforementioned main character in “Szendrolad Confessions.” The debate was chaired by Kristof Domina, the director of the Athene Institute.

Among the topics knowledgably discussed were possible integration efforts and strategies in Hungary We also heard about development programs and educational projects in Szendrolad where it is hoped that this work can have a genuine and positive impact on the future of the community.

Roundtable discussion (from left to right): Kristof Domina, Karoly Kalo, Katalin Barsony, Angela Kocze.

The role of the media and its ability to mould stereotypes was also debated with particular attention being paid to the “Minorities in Hungarian Media” study by Vera Messing and Gabor Bernath,

Looking towards the future, the panel shared their views on the importance of IT development including simple news gathering and inexpensive ways of creating short videos for more effective advocacy from our communities. It was agreed that Romani leaders have a significant role to play in helping to develop rural communities.

The day continued with a film about the experiences of eleven lesbian women in socialist times called “Secret Years” before finishing with a documentary focusing on Jews in their twenties and thirties and their identity “In Hungary I’m a Jew, in Israel I’d rather be a Hungarian.”