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Sights & culture

8 captivating exhibitions in Budapest for the spring

Get lost in the art of Van Gogh, discover 500 years of bridal traditions, and escape to Rome for a few hours in these exhibitions!

Sights & culture

Hungarian Zsuzsa Mihalek and her team bag the Production Design BAFTA for Poor Things

Yesterday, Poor Things took home 7 BAFTAs out of 13 nominations, including the Best Actress award for Emma Stone and the Best Production Design.

sights & culture

Watch a whole world of documentaries this month on the Verziótéka platform

Nearly 50 English-friendly documentaries are being streamed until the end of this month for only 500 forints each through the Verziótéka platform. All you need do is use a special We Love Budapest code to enter. Films are only available within Hungary. Verziótéka is the online version of the popular International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Verzió, launched in 2005. The subject matter for 2022 varies from matchmaking in rural Croatia to illegal logging in Central Europe.

Select the documentary that interests you from the Verziótéka online library. An English-language explanation is given once you scroll down past the Hungarian text. After registering, you will receive a WELOVEVERZIO code that can be used to stream films for as little as 500 forints. Once you choose yours, it will be available in your library for seven days – after pressing play, you then have 48 hours to watch or rewatch the film. An English-language explanation is given here, after you scroll past the Hungarian text. Films are not available outside of Hungary's borders.

Here we pick out our five favourites – again, scroll past the Hungarian online description on the Verziótéka site to find the English text.

1/5

Gangster of Love

This Croatian documentary revolves around the topic of love and matchmaking, in a quite unusual way. The camera follows Neđeljko Babić – Nedo for short – who has been working as a matchmaker for 25 years and who, according to his own admission, has arranged 280 marriages. Overseen by Nedo, always wearing sunglasses and combing his moustache, this one-man agency calls itself Hope. It’s quite amazing just how many people turn to resources such as Nedo’s if things don’t work out of their own accord. Everyone longs for a true companion and love, regardless of their age, social status or intellect. Nedo is on the road all day, coming and going, organising, persuading, showing photos, filling out papers – but, most of all, he makes phone calls. He handles several cases at the same time, we get to know a few of them in this 80-minute documentary

Maja is a Romanian woman who ran away from an abusive relationship and is now raising her two-year-old child on her own, but now finds herself  on the scrap heap. Marin is Nedo’s self-destructive friend, who wants to find a partner while constantly complaining that he’ll end up alone. When it seems things might work out for him, he prefers to back off. The most fascinating case, however, is the man who worked in the German construction industry for 20 years and built a three-storey, 20-room villa where he lives alone while waiting for his queen. Sadly, his emotional intelligence is practically zero. The film shows how unpredictable love can be. Nedo, in a long-standing marriage himself, never gives up hope, even when his client does. He still pushes ahead because for him, love is sacred. The great virtue of Gangster of Love is that it is as colourful as life itself, with cutting dialogue. Nedo never misses a trick, pulling out a CD towards the end of a meeting, featuring himself singing as Gangster Amor, and asking his customer for 50 kuna.

2/5

Hi, A.I.

Our relationship with robots, artificial intelligence and machines is a complex one. While we use them in an ever-increasing area of ​​our lives, in many cases even rely on them, we still question when the moment will come when a real-life Skynet comes to pass like in the Terminator films. In Hi, A.I., the story revolves around companionship, love, friendship and care, how we can live with robots, whether they can really alleviate loneliness, and whether we can think of them as true companions. We see the story of three robots and three people, the link between them different in all three threads. The elderly grandmother who lives on her own gets a grandchild in the person of Pepper, but the robot gets pretty bored with her conversation

Chuck, meanwhile, goes to the factory to buy himself a girlfriend but it's pretty morbid to see how androids are made, dangling over a hanger, the manufacturers walking past the naked bodies and carrying them over their shoulders. Chuck is an extremely emotional man who has been through a lot of trauma, and longs for a real companion and love, but can only see the solution in robots. The relationship between him and his girlfriend raises a lot of questions. Can we really fall in love with someone who doesn’t have their own opinions, whose feelings we can control and predict, who can tell us an entire Wikipedia article for an answer to a simple question? How can we connect with someone whose emotions we can't see, whose eyes are full of emptiness, whose touch is completely absent and whose conversations only start with our initiative? In addition to personal stories, scientists, robotics experts and philosophers also appear to explain how robots are developed and what positive returns the use of artificial intelligence can have. The focus is still on how they change our everyday lives and how they can take the place of people in our everyday world.

3/5

Push

Focusing on gentrification, this Swedish documentary dissects a number of serious sociological and economic problems, while presenting an overview of the housing conditions in several large cities around the world. The roots of the situation run deep, as people are forced out of the environment into which they were born. The camera follows the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, as she roams the planet to assess the effects of gentrification on local communities. 

Is decent housing a fundamental right or just a commodity? Is an individual a fully-fledged member of society or just a consumer? Fredrik Gertten's film addresses these and similar questions, with fewer and fewer privately owned apartments and houses in the world, and more and more rental properties.

4/5

Try Harder!

Debbie Lum’s documentary follows the daily lives of pupils at Lowell High, one of the most demanding public schools in the United States, popular among mostly Asian-American students, and accompanies them through the tense period of admissions and university selection. What may seem like a matter-of-fact storyline is studded with hard-hitting messages, and shocking or euphoric personal stories about today’s youth burdened with often unrealistic expectations. It confronts us with our own decisions, either made as adults or as teenagers. Many of the kids featured struggle with self-esteem issues and suffer from a compulsion to conform to their parents

They run up against real disappointment for the first time in their lives during admissions, having spent their best teenage years slaving to enter an elite universities. Are they following their own path? Try Harder! doesn't judge, but suggests that everyone should follow their own dreams and not their parents’. Nevertheless, when choosing a university, this is also an extremely difficult period for parents, too, because from here on in, the little children they always protected finally discover their independence. This separation is a loss for both sides, one that must be experienced and mourned in order for each party to move on.

5/5

Wood

Made by brave Austrian, Romanian and German documentary filmmakers in 2020, Wood deals with astonishing world of illegal logging. Established by a mafia, this murky and lucrative trade is maintained by criminals, in close allegiance with profit-hungry corporations, politicians and the authorities, crossing national borders and continents for serious money. Wood reveals the fight against them, becoming a real-life thriller as it focuses on the investigation of the American environmental protection agency, EIA, which uses hidden cameras and plants in various companies.

Certain operators practically steal wood and natural resources​​ from former Socialist countries (Russia, Ukraine, Romania) and South American states (Peru), with little respect anything or anybody. Intimidation, surveillance, murder, the deliberate destruction of nature, it’s all fair game. Although the combined efforts of agents and civilians do have a positive effect and elicit a sense of justice in the viewer, it remains a very long and perhaps never-ending battle.

Cimkék

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