The Dialektus Festival was founded by the János Domokos, film director, and ethnographic researcher, and my good self, Zoltán Füredi, film producer and cultural anthropologist, in the spring of 2001. The festival first took place in 2002 and the second in 2004 in the newly refurbished Uránia National Cinema which is the cinema of the Ministry of National Cultural Heritage. The event was organised by the Palantír Film Visual Anthropological Foundation.
At the inception, the aim was no less than to demarcate and generate Hungarian anthropological films. We considered three traditions. The first was the wave of popular science films that came out of the Ethnographic Museum, the Hungarian Film and Video Studio, as well as the documentary studios which came after them. The second was to look at excellent examples of Hungarian sociographic documentary films while the third involved - and perhaps this was the most important - organising an event based on the model established by large, international, ethnographic film festivals.
"We welcome films to the festival which, instead of exotica and stereotypes, place greater emphasis on and involve relativistic recognition and that use scientific methods and results combined with the expressive tools of film as an art form."(Section from the invitation to participate.)
In 2004, 185 films were entered (with 158 in 2002). Around 10% of these films arrived from abroad while all the others were produced locally in Hungary. The films were screened by a three-member pre-jury and placed in one of three sections. The Competition Programme (25 films) included films which the jury judged as having handled those topics dealt with by ethnography and anthropology with the greatest colour, authenticity and depth Here we were primarily talking about commentator- participant films which tend to more closely follow the model used in television. The second section was the information programme (65 films), the aim of which was to gather ethnographic filmmakers from a wider circle than a competition programme with time given over to looking at what types of films are being made with the screenings taking place according to topic. The films that were not included in the above sections (85 films) were available for the 4 days of the festival in the Video Library. We also launched a Student-Film Programme which accepted entries from high-school students and we had 10 films compete in this programme. The films were judged by a five-member jury (see attached). All entrants were invited to attend the festival and their travel expenses were funded.
The four-day festival was visited by a total of 600 people with the majority being university students, lecturers, film professionals and scientific researchers but we were also happy to welcome many film enthusiasts.
We have, from the very beginning, placed great emphasis on the improvement of communication between documentary filmmakers and social scientists. The screenings of the competition films were always followed by a 10-15 minute discussion with mediation by a member of the pre-jury. Other than instant reactions, we also provided opportunity for greater discussion of the films and the specific topic as part of a whole-day workshop where everyone was allowed to express their opinion. So, in 2002, the title given to the discussion day was Art and/or science and in 2004 it was Possibilities for ethnographical films in television. As part of this day, directors, the jury and invitees went on an excursion to Pilisszántó where a round-table discussion was followed by a screening of a film made by the mayor of the village, József Szőnyi. (The film received an award in the previous festival and discussed the village tradition of lime burning.)
A 156-page collection of studies was published to serve as an introduction to anthropological filmmaking of which only a part was a film catalogue. In 2004, we published a work titled: Films of reality - studies on anthropological film and film catalogue, which also included an interview with a Transylvanian filmmaker and, besides Vilmos Tánczos' study, it also incorporated theoretical fundamental works translated into Hungarian (for the first time) by Emile de Brigard, Colin Young, David MacDougall and Jay Ruby.
The festival website (www.dialektusfesztival.hu) closely follows events and contains all the materials in anyway related to the festivals that have taken place so far. However, we need to make serious improvements: build a searchable film database, refresh the whole structure and make everything available in the English language.
All the films entered into the festival win a place in our DocuArt Film Archive which we operate and which provides an accessible resource to researchers, journalists and anyone with a general interest. The DocuArt website is now under construction and will soon be available via: www.docuart.hu
One very important part of the festival, and at the same time an important forum for anthropological filmmakers, is the Travelling Dialektus Festival project. As part of this, the winning films from the festival are shown in a 1-2 day mini festival in Hungarian towns both in Hungary and neighbouring countries. The festival has so far made its way to Eger, Kolozsvár (Romania), Miskolc, Nyíregyháza, Pécs, Szeged, Újvidék (Yugoslavia). We always organise discussions and public meetings and we held a conference as part of the festival in Szeged on the topic of Hungarian, anthropological filmmaking with 20 papers and reviews presented between 13th and 15th October 2004.
The most important question with regard to the future of the festival is the question of internationalism. From the very beginning, we have built the structure of the festival with due attention to foreign examples. The composition of the jury, as can be seen from the list of members, was international and our catalogues were printed in two languages with the content of the films described in English as well as in Hungarian. Not withstanding this, and although the festivals spanned national borders, the festival still only provided a platform for Hungarian filmmakers. In 2006 we would like to realise our original dream and advertise an international programme. We will still retain the Hungarian information and competition sections but the exact way in which the international and national programme would work alongside one another is still unclear, the resolution of which remains one of the largest planning questions. It is also a question as to how an international festival would be financed from local sources as this transformation would obviously result in an increase in costs. We are obviously keen to secure foreign or European Union financial support. However, the absolute aim of the festival is to integrate Hungarian ethnographical filmmaking into the international professional sphere and - vice versa - to establish anthropological film thinking in Hungary.
Festival Director, President of the Palantír Film Visual Anthropological Foundation