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5 films to see at the Verzió Film Festival
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Verzió is one of Budapest’s most exciting film festivals, featuring some of the most striking human-rights documentaries in recent years and now being held for the 16th time. Between 12 and 17 November, there will be 75 works from 46 countries and since it is impossible to see everything, we have selected five for you.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld Earth Jawline Matangi / Maya / M.I.A. Minding the Gap +1 Vektor VR

Cold Case Hammarskjöld

Is it possible to solve a case that has been closed for 50 years? In 1961, then UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane crashed in mysterious circumstances in Africa, killing the Swedish politician and the whole crew. Conspiracy theories have suggested that his plane was shot down, but this was never proven. There was certainly a motive, however, as Hammarskjöld was trying to end the civil war in Congo, a mission which may not have been in everyone’s interests. He was in talks when disaster struck.

Filmmakers, Danish journalist-documentary provocateur Mads Brügger and his Swedish counterpart Göran Björkdahl, have thoroughly re-examined previous investigations, heard several new witnesses and, although their methods do not appear to have been the most sophisticated, they found a trail they would never have dreamed of. We won’t be giving out any spoilers, but at the end of this Sundance festival-winning movie, it outlines exactly what caused the death of Dag Hammarskjöld.

 

For times and venues see here.

Earth

The festival’s Anthropocene section deals with climate change – the term itself is the name of a proposed new geological age. No documentary has yet dealt with the Earth itself and our destruction of it, which makes the approach of Austrian director Nicolaus Geyrhalter special in that, rather than suffering animals and the disappearance of primeval forest, he offers a point of identification with these most radical interventions in nature. Workers tell us about their lives as a Carrara marble miner, a California miner, a tunnel borer, a Spanish copper miner and someone who deals with radioactive waste, the value they see in their work and what they enjoy. The crew even visited Hungary at an open-cast coal mine in Gyöngyös.

Many can be overwhelmed by the depiction of the industrial environment, but in Earth, picturesque, eye-catching images come to life, giving you an interesting and enjoyable cinematic experience (not to mention geological dissemination). It should also be noted that the film won an award by the Ecumenical Jury at this year’s Berlin Festival.

 

For times and venues, see here.

Jawline

When watching this movie, you may not believe your eyes at the interviews with teenage girls or their crying fits. However much you watch YouTubers and their influential non-achievement, you had better be aware of their significance. Where once The Beatles then the Backstreet Boys generated certain degrees of hysteria, guys on ‘boy broadcasts’ give a more varied form of illusion. The teen idol shows us this trend through the story of a 16-year-old newcomer living in a sleepy rural small town trying to conquer the hearts of internet users with nice-sounding clichés. However, he is not in an easy situation with regard to his family and financial circumstances, a lot is at stake on whether he succeeds in gaining fame and money.

The film has everything that is frustrating today about mobiles and social media: selfies, Instagram addiction, self-promotion, brand building, easy money, fame and attention, while providing an accurate diagnosis of the digitally interconnected world, and maybe helping you understand how it works.

 

For times and venues, see here.

Matangi / Maya / M.I.A.

Born in 1975 of Sri-Lankan descent, British rapper-singer Mathangi Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A., combines alternative, dance, electronic, hip hop and world music to create her distinctive sound. Her career began in London in 2000 and is marked by such hit singles as Paper Planes and Bad Girls. M.I.A. has been nominated for an Academy Award, three Grammies and the Mercury Prize. 

It is important to know that her father was the founder of the armed Tamil resistance in Sri Lanka. Although their relationship is controversial, her debut album in 2005, Arular, bears his name. The film delves deep into the family and cultural background with a wealth of archival, never-before-seen footage. Political, social and current issues add an exciting twist to the portrait of a singer whose art is inseparable from war, migration, multiculturalism and identity.

 

For times and venues, see here.

Minding the Gap

The festival’s section Growing Up focuses on the life of the newest generation, which is everything but easy in today’s society. This category’s outstanding feature is a documentary film directed by Bing Liu, considered one of the best of 2018, winning a special award at the Sundance Film Festival, and later nominated for Emmy and Academy Awards. The film is reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age drama Boyhood, which follows the lives of the Chicago director’s skateboarding friends over 12 years. Here we see the difficulties of growing up, becoming a man, and passing on family trauma through generations.

A large amount of raw material built up throughout the 12 years, but was edited perfectly to display the unique issues and faiths of three boys. One of them becomes a father at a young age, another has to face the death of his father and deal with his own racial identity, while the director’s own family problems resurface through her mother’s story of domestic violence.

 

For times and venues, see here.

+1 Vektor VR

The dovetailing of virtual reality and documentary might seem quite novel, they have more in common than you might think. Various experimental techniques, 360-degree videos, interactive documentaries, immersive journalism projects and site-specific solutions significantly augment the genre, so for the first time in Hungary, VR content will be a complete section. In this way, you can learn about Kafka’s Metamorphosis VR, Greenland Greenland (-22.7°C) and Lake Baikal (Lake Baikal: Science and Spirituality of Extreme Wateror the so-called imitation cities of China (The Real Thing).