Brown Bag Talks 2022-2023, Semester 1


  • 2 Nov, 1pm: Lucy Szemetová (Film Studies), ‘Excavating “Invisible” Histories – (Dis)Remembering Socialist Secret Police Through Documentary Film?’
    Location: Buchanan 305

Abstract: The talk will explore Gábor Zsigmond Papp’s The Life of an Agent (2004), a compilation of state security training films from Hungary’s (socialist) Kádár era (1956-1988). This documentary film is produced through materials aimed at cultivating surveillance culture, secreted following the regime change, but then brought to light through archival excavation and remixing. Drawing on Maya Nadkarni’s notion of “remains” (specific sites of the past reactivated post-1989) will show the shifting status and usage of secret police films, indispensable to build national narratives in Hungary. Papp’s work provides an occasion to understand the relationships of films, archives, and national memory in practices both onscreen (remixing) and off (practices of curation and collection) across seismic political shifts. Thus this talk considers how creative documentary practice intervenes into the official records and produces new ones while calling attention to the ideological underpinnings of archival practice and memory-making.

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