Watch documentary capturing dissent from the 2020 Hungarian student blockades – the Calvert Journal
A new feature-length documentary tells the story of the 70-day student blockade at the Budapest University of Theater and Film Arts (SZFE).
Directed by Noemi Hatala, Partizan follows students as they plan and participate in protests against increased government control at the university. Alternating interviews with organizers, plans for brainstorming sessions and dynamic scenes from the barricades themselves, the film shows university directors forced to resign amid a student barrage of dance performances, street performances, parties. techno and street art.
The 2020 protests were a key episode in Hungary’s opposition to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s authoritarian rule and growing interference in the arts.
Hungarian authorities have restructured nine public universities in recent years, turning their ownership over to private foundations – despite criticism that these groups are controlled by politically appointed administrators. When officials announced that the SZFE would undergo a similar change, the rectors and heads of departments of the 155-year-old institution, including the Berlinale winner On body and soul director Ildikó Enyedi resigned in protest. Students, meanwhile, have launched ongoing protests, blocking the university building.
In the documentary, a member of staff is filmed asking the students “not to demonstrate or make a revolution”. One of them replied: “The big picture is that there is a political takeover going on: it is neither the first nor the last in this country, but for us it is enough. .
“Sometimes it was heartbreaking to see the struggles of the students, sometimes it was super exciting to see their accomplishments or just their way of thinking,” said principal Noemi Hatala. The Calvert Journal. “I feel like I managed to document the most exciting part of this blockade and the very beginning of the movement.”