1956 as Media Revolution - The Hungarian Revolution in Socialist Newsreels

Most footage shot during the 1956 Revolution is well known both in Hungary and abroad. They were recorded not only by Hungarian news crews and fiction filmmakers but also by Western television and film crews as well as a number of amateurs filming the events. In this Verzio program, however, we will approach the issue of media coverage of the Hungarian revolution from a new perspective, through a selection of newsreels from the neighboring socialist countries.  In the period when television broadcasting did not yet begin in Eastern Europe, newsreels were a major tool of audiovisual propaganda and the most important mass medium. Evidently, the newsreels of the socialist countries reported on the Hungarian revolution in line with the expected ideological message – if they covered it at all. Most sensitive matters sometimes remained suppressed – thus, for instance, the Hungarian newsreels kept silent about the Poznań uprising. Nonetheless, it is extremely interesting and educative to show in what way and with what commentary the Hungarian revolution was interpreted in socialist newsreels. Was there any difference between the Polish, East German and Romanian newsreels? How did the tone of the reportages change between November 1956 and early 1957? What was shown and what was left out, and how was the revolution presented by what was shown? The purpose of this selection of newsreels and the accompanying discussion is to examine the media and cultural characteristics and the differences within the socialist moving image propaganda as well as to address an aspect of the representation of the 1956 Hungarian revolution that so far has been given little attention.

Balázs Varga, program curator


November 10, 16:00, Blinken OSA Archivum

A selection of 1956 newsreels from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, and DDR.

Followed by panel discussion with Marek Cieśliński and Marton Kurucz film historians. Moderator: Balázs Varga, film historian.


Czechoslovak newsreels
Thanks: Katerina Fojtova, Czech National Film Archive / Malešická 14, 130 00 Praha 3
Translation: Beáta Kratinová és Petr Knor 

Polish newsreels
Thanks: Turczynowicz Justyna, Polish National Film Archive / ul. Chełmska 21, PL 00-724 Warszawa
Translation: Tarcsi András és Malgorzata Szymeczko

East German newsreels
Thanks: Eszter Takacs, Mirko Wiermann / Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen, DEFA-Filmverleih / Potsdamer Str. 2, 10785 Berlin
Translation: Kerstin Baur, Niklas Wittman

Yugoslav newsreels
Thanks: Jovana Kesić, Filmske Novosti / 11000 Belgrade, Bulevar Vojvode Mišića 39a
Translation: Luna Aleksic

Romanian newsreels
Thanks: Oana Koulpy, One World Romania, Romanian National Center for Cinematography