Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
Surveillance, Secret Police Film Festival
16 films / 5 countries / 6 weeks
October 21 – December 2, 2015, 6 Wednesdays
In connection with the exhibition Watching You, Watching Me, the Open Society Archives, in collaboration with the Goethe Institute in Budapest and secret police archives in Germany, Poland and Slovakia, is showcasing a retrospective film program inspired by the photos of the secret Stasi archives curated by Simon Menner.
This retrospective film program includes an international selection of training films, newsreels and operative films produced by Communist Secret Police 1962-1989. The program explores how the secret police imagined and managed their surveillance activities and what they were actually seeing while watching. Also in the program are creative documentary films composed of and built around secret police surveillance films.
October 21, 2015 at 6.30 PM
Secret Arrest / Titkos őrizetbevétel (training film)
Through two cases, the film reveals the techniques employed by the state security in order to demoralize and abuse the integrity of the targeted people, and turn them into secret agents.
Hungary, Hungarian with English subtitles, 1973, 9 min
Documentation Methods Used in an Interior Surveillance /
Belső figyelések végrehajtása során alkalmazott dokumentációs eszközök (training film)
Step by step tutorial for professional practitioner agents on a mission on how to use a photo camera hidden in a ladies handbag.
Hungary, Hungarian with English subtitles, 1975, 8 min
The Life of an Agent / Az ügynök élete (documentary film)
How did the secret police operate in Communist Hungary? Find out in this compilation of training films from the Police Film Studio. Dir.: Gábor Zsigmond Papp, Hungary, Hungarian, English subtitles, 2004, 55 min
Introduction by and film talk with Gábor Zsigmond Papp (Film Director) and András Mink (Historian, OSA)
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October 28, 2015. 6.30 PM
Secret House Search/ Titkos házkutatás (instructional film)
Communist state security agents enter a home of a couple while they are out at work and at a spa. The goal is to find any prohibited and hidden objects, like US Dollars. The evidence will be used to blackmail the citizens and turn them into secret agents.
Hungary, Hungarian with English subtitles, 1962, 18 min
Under Surveillance by the Securitate 1970-1980 (documentary film)
The movie portrays the extreme case of surveillance under Romanian communism; in between 70s and 80s Securitate was a key-institution in Romania: it not only observed its citizens, but also brutally repressed and domesticated them. The persons who viewed their files engage in storytelling their dramatic encounters with the secret police and, at the same time, reflect on the logic of the documents who insidiously mapped their lives. It's a movie of unappeased trauma, hinting at other continuities in nowadays Romanian political life.
Nicolae Mărgineanu, Romania, Romanian with English voiceover, 2009, 56 min
Introduction and follow up analyses by Ioana Macrea-Toma (Historian, OSA) and András Mink (Historian OSA)
November 4, 2015. 6.30 PM
A Chronicle of Operations / Dwanaście filmów operacyjnych (operative film)
Excerpts from operative films from different events, supplemented by comments on the events and the techniques used during the surveillance operations.
Poland, in Polish with English subtitles, 1968-1976, 24 min
Communist Technologies of Surveillance: PESEL population registry / Budowa Rządowego Centrum Informatycznego PESEL (newsreel)
PESEL is the Polish identification number still in use as of 2015, however its genesis in the surveillance program undertaken by the Interior Ministry dates back to the 1970s.
Poland, in Polish with English subtitles, 1974, 8 min
Official Visit / Wizitacja (newsreel)
General Wojciech Jaruzelski pays a visit to the PESEL Center in Warsaw.
In Polish with English subtitles, cca. 1975, 6 min, silent
Source of the 3 films: The Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw
Hear My Cry / Usłyszcie mój krzyk (documentary film)
In front of thousands of people, Ryszard Siwiec poured gasoline over himself and lit himself on fire during a festival at a Stadium in Warsaw on September 8, 1968. Film director, Maciej Drygas reveals the real story behind the sacrifice using secret police films and records, and via interviews with relatives and eyewitnesses.
Maciej Drygas, Poland, Polish with English subtitles, 1991, 46 min
November 18, 2015. 6.30 PM
A Diplomat (propaganda film)
A cold war story about Colonel Roberto Cantilio, Italian Military Attaché who had been spying ever since he arrived to Hungary in 1959… Hungary, Hungarian with English subtitles, 1962, 8 min
Under the Mask of a Private Citizen / Pod maskou soukromnika (training film)
Combining real and fictional elements, the Communist propaganda film discredits the 1968 Czech emigration and charges them with spying and smuggling in to Czechoslovakia dangerous literature by "West-German students".
Czechoslovakia, 1978, 30 min, Czech and German language with English subtitles, dir. Tibor Podhorec
Source: Ustav Pamati Naroda in Bratislava (UPN), the National Memory Institute, Slovakia
Their Duty Is To Spy / Feladatuk a kémkedés (training film)
A short piece describing methods of counterintelligence propaganda.
Czechoslovakia, 1963, 12 min, in Hungarian with English subtitles, dir. Jaroslav Šikl
Source: Ustav Pamati Naroda in Bratislava (UPN), the National Memory Institute
Introduction and follow up Q&A with Peter Jašek (Historian, The Nation's Memory Institute – Bratislava) and András Mink (Historian, Open Society Archives)
November 25, 2015. 6.30 PM
Theme: What were they seeing while watching? Operative films from the Stasi Mediathek
West-Berlin Spy Road Movie / Kamerafahrt mit einem PKW durch West-Berlin (operative film)
This film is exclusively composed of images of important sights and streets in West-Berlin, filmed by Stasi employees’ Super8 mm camera. The film could have been used to introduce the sights and main streets to DDR agents before their deployment in West Berlin.
DDR, German with English subtitles, 1970, 89 min, 12 min excerpt
Border Zone at Berlin-Kreuzberg /Filmaufnahmen der Grenzanlagen in Berlin-Kreuzberg (operative film)
This film shows East German and West-German civilians moving within the close vicinity of the border zone fence and checkpoint.
DDR, German with English subtitles, 1962, 11 min, silent (music added by OSA)
Surveillance of a West-German Citizen in Flemmingen in Naumburg / Beobachtung eines BRD-Bürgers in Flemmingen bei Naumburg (operative film)
As the microphones of the VHS cameras used for surveillance were not switched off, the comments and conversations between the two Stasi agents were accidentally recorded thus leaving a unique source of information about what the observers were thinking about their subjects.
DDR, German with English subtitles, 1989, 13 min
December 2, 2015. Wednesday 6.30 PM
GermanUnity@Balaton – Honeyland / NémetEgység @ Balatonnál – Mézföld (documentary film)
Home movies, interviews, photographs, and documents from East German and Hungarian secret police archives reconstruct the atmosphere of summers at Balaton in the late socialist period.
Péter Forgács, Hungary, 2011, Hungarian & German with English subtitles, 78 min
Introduction and follow up Q&A with Film Director Péter Forgács
Work of the OSA Archivum.
Curated by András Mink, Ioana Macrea-Toma, Piotr Wcislik and Zsuzsanna Zádori