Two Hungarian films about homosexuality: Falsehood and the truth

While researching an entirely different topic, I encountered by chance a description of a Hungarian-made film called “Coming Out.” On closer observation, it turns out that the film is about “how to come out of being gay”–that is, how to “cure oneself” of being gay. Shortly after the film appeared in November, a reviewer claimed that it “is the most harmful Hungarian film ever made.” He came to that conclusion on the basis of the comments that appeared under a review of the film in Index, which were full of venom, hatred, and anti-Semitic remarks.

I, on the other hand, see it somewhat differently. Yes, it is most likely a harmful film, but not because commenters make ugly remarks about gays, liberals, and Jews. It is harmful because it is a falsification of medical facts. Instead of enlightening the terribly ignorant Hungarian public on the phenomenon of homosexuality, it leads them farther down the road of ignorance.

Some twenty years ago, in the infancy of the Internet, I signed up for two discussion groups dealing with Hungary. One was in English, the other in Hungarian. By now I don’t remember on which one we had a Hungarian psychiatrist who one day came out with the brilliant observation that “homosexuality is like smoking. One can get hooked but one can also quit.” It seems that even twenty years later many Hungarians haven’t changed their attitudes.

The story of the movie is as follows. Erik, an openly gay radio personality, is planning to marry his partner, Balázs. Then comes a motorcycle accident, as a result of which he slowly discovers that he is “in truth” attracted to the opposite sex. Who is the object of his newly found heterosexual desires? His own physician, Linda.

The producer of this film is Gábor Kálomista, a man known for his right-wing sympathies. It received 280 million forints from the fund established by the Orbán government under the supervision of Andy Vajnai, formerly a producer of such serial Hollywood blockbusters as Rambo and Terminator. Vajnai is a practical guy for whom box office numbers are the measure of success. When he arrived as Viktor Orbán’s man in charge of film production, he decided to change the direction of Hungarian filmmakers’ activities. Hungary was known for winning all sorts of international prizes but, Orbán and Vajnai pointed out, nobody went to see these films. They didn’t make any money.

The result of the total reorganization of the Hungarian film industry was that for three solid years no Hungarian film was produced. But then “Coming Out” appeared. Since the money for the production came from the Christian, family oriented Orbán government, one couldn’t expect to see a real “coming out.” Moreover, since the newly organized film industry wanted high ticket sales, the plot had to appeal to the majority, conservative audience. Apparently it worked. By the end of January 110,000 people went to see the movie.

It seems that this pseudo-science is what the Hungarian public wants to believe. They can go home after the movie and discuss with friends and family the “fact” that homosexuality is an illness which can be cured, if necessary by a knock on the head. They can go on and talk in the style of Zsolt Semjén about “bearded liberals” who lead innocent children into sin by luring them into sexual deviance.

This film is a reflection of the generally phony world of Orbán’s Hungary. Falsifying history, falsifying science: all is well as long as the government’s propaganda machine, assisted by the churches, satisfies the needs of the population. Moreover, this is film is just a drop in the bucket. For instance, Péter Róska, a theologian, explains on Magyar Rádió that “homosexual tendencies” are acquired traits because “they haven’t found the homosexual gene.” The whole western world, he continues, is in danger because of the “gender ideology” that is directed by gays and feminists. This kind of pap is being fed to the Hungarian public.

SturmlandIn sharp contrast, a Hungarian-German film, naturally not supported by Andy Vajna’s fund, won top honors in the “first film” category at the Berlin Film Festival. The film, entitled Sturmland/Viharsarok (Land of Storms), is about three gay men wrestling with their sexuality in an unaccommodating environment.  A review I read of the film describes the background as something that “belongs to a forgotten Europe.” A Hungarian football player returns from Germany and gets romantically involved with a local man. Both men endure separate experiences of violence as word gets out about them. In the end the football player is murdered. Berliner Zeitung wrote a very favorable review of the film in which the reviewer emphasized that the movie is about “the dreadful logic of repressed homosexuality and the deadly hatred of homosexuals.”

Two films, two worlds. One is reality, the other reflects the awful emptiness of a mendacious world created by Viktor Orbán and his Christian Democratic allies who have a free rein in matters of education, culture, and film production.

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Guest

I won’t comment on that homophobic film but re that film about gay people in sports:

Is it just a coincidence that we’ve read lately several reports about “coming out” of football/soccer players in Germany, the USA and also lesbian tennis players etc ?

So at least outside of Hungary “coming out” (in the original sense ) has become easier!

And it’s funny again that a Hungarian film describes it.

PS:

There are/were so many really good Hungarian films (even in communist times) – not counting all those films made by Hungarians who fled to Hollywood. Wouldn’t it be interesting to discuss them – or does anyone know about a place where this discussion is going on (in English preferably)?

Bowen
Guest

It’s quite easy to problematize the depiction of LGBT characters in mainstream Hollywood films, too. You’ll be searching long and hard to find an American film where the main gay character lives happily ever after. And the 1980s had its fair share of films where the homosexual character was either the comedy relief or the psycho.

But what makes this Hungarian ‘Coming Out’ film precipitously worse (despite the fact that it’s been made in 21st century Europe) is that it’s solely about a gay male character’s amusing ‘voyage of self-discovery’. And it functions to do one thing only: to pose homosexuality not as a disease which should be cured, but as a wrong set of choices.

You could, if you wished, also look at the depiction of women in this film. i.e. they are there purely in terms of heterosexual male pleasure. This film regards identity (including one’s sexual identity) as something static which can be standardised, and recalibrated.

But, to analyse this film any further would be to treat it far beyond its worth. And that this is a state-funded film, with a wide public reach (it was heavily promoted on billboards around Budapest) is wretched.

Member

Shared and posted on my Facebook page: Another brilliant, eye-opening review by Professor Eva Balogh. She merits an enormous prize and immense gratitude for her relentless and insightful exposés of the shameful goings-on in Orban’s Karpathian Kleptocracy today. I highly recommend Professor Balogh’s Hungarian Spectrum, not only to those who are interested in following the dramatic decline of Hungary, but of the way keen intelligence and the Web can combine to draw global scrutiny to a historic challenge to European democracy in the post-soviet Balkans. https://www.facebook.com/harnad1

Mutt
Guest
Here is the trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4ZGbStXzzU You don’t need to speak the language. You will notice the ample amount of female nudity – I think they thought heterosexual males otherwise will not pay the 6 bucks. It’s not R rated – 12 year olds can see it. I wonder how many of them did. The movie is considered the first Hungarian gay movie. Let’s be honest. In the today’s homophobe, right wing, Christian dictatorship, it’s miracle that this movie “came out”. Critics bashed it. Cheesy, anti-gay propaganda in sugary sirup. Hurtful, clueless cliché galore. Vegetarian, classical music loving men in pink t-shirts. The film grossed about 700k US domestically in 8 weeks. This means that more than 100,000 people saw it. It’s a rare result for a Hungarian comedy. Bowen is right. It’s hard to find successful gay comedies even in the US. The Birdcage comes to mind, 20 years ago. By the way there are plenty of gay comedies. What is interesting in the US IMHo that there are more and more gay characters in everyday running TV shows, like Law and Order, etc. All these characters are depicted as real people. I mean nothing special about them. I think… Read more »
Mutt
Guest

One more thing. For a Fidesz sympathizer to change course and NOT vote for the Fidesz is similar to “coming out”. It’s a major declaration and risk. So be normal with them. Don’t forget: they are not different. I’m serious. Really. I see more and more closet democrats among them. Let’s not scare these guys.

buddy
Guest

@Mutt
“Coming Out” can’t be the first Hungarian gay film because I remember another one, “Egymásra nézve” from 1982 by the great filmmaker Károly Makk about two lesbians who can’t be together because of societal norms and expectations. Pretty freaking sad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Another_Way_%28film%29

Mutt
Guest

buddy :
@Mutt
“Coming Out” can’t be the first Hungarian gay film because I remember another one, “Egymásra nézve” from 1982 by the great filmmaker Károly Makk about two lesbians who can’t be together because of societal norms and expectations. Pretty freaking sad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Another_Way_%28film%29

You are right!! How could I forget it? Yes.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

And Colonel Redl…

Member
buddy : @Mutt “Coming Out” can’t be the first Hungarian gay film because I remember another one, “Egymásra nézve” from 1982 by the great filmmaker Károly Makk about two lesbians who can’t be together because of societal norms and expectations. Pretty freaking sad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Another_Way_%28film%29 Just wanted to write that down. Thanks. Also, there was a great Hungarian documentary from 2008, “Secret Years” directed Maria Takacs. It contains interviews with lesbian women who were already adults prior to the regime change. Here is the trailer with Hungarian subtitle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj8FaAOL-hk @wolfi, I am not aware of any discuss forum, but on IMDB under some of the Hungarian titles there are some discussion. Also here is a link to the “Top Hungarian Movies of All the Time”. Of course it is arguable, but the rank is based on the marks each movie receives by visitors. Still, it is fun to have a list of Hungarian movies. http://www.filmcrave.com/list_language_movie.php?language=Hungarian As far as Vajna goes.. I already shared my story from 2012 regarding a lunch I had at Nobu restaurant. Vajna is one of the owner of the famous Japanese restaurant at the main floor of Kempinsky. Expensive, but great food. Vajna arrives to his own… Read more »
Member

I meant English subtitle.

Reg
Guest

OT: it is interesting to see how many people have seen the évértékelő speeches on youtube.

Gyurcsany’s was seen by 10,500 times (ATV uploaded it).

Orban’s (uploaded by Orban’s home page) was some 2,380 times. Echo TV also uploaded the show, it was seen by 165.

I do not want to imply too much, probably the Fideszniks have anyway ample opportunity to read and hear about Orban’s speech (not that it would matter what he said there) so they will not look for it on the net. Lefties have zero opportunity, so they have to look consciously for the speech on the net.

latefor
Guest
This is an extract from my book: Arty, Crafty, Nasty – available on Amazon.com/kindle “We spent five days together with Pete at the GAYEXPO in Melbourne, where our gallery had a stand. He ‘educated’ me about what makes gay men tick. We had plenty of time to chat, as the visitors there were more interested in sex aids, which came in all shapes, colours and sizes. Art was not on the top of their agenda, believe me. If I remember correctly, we only sold one etching by an Aussie artist in 5 days. By the time the Expo ended, I met some adorable gay guys, but also some true misogynists and outright nasty ones.“Many fashion designers out there are encouraging girls to look stick thin, more like a man, ignoring the fact, that what makes women look beautiful is their curves!” I made a casual comment (needed to put in my own 2 cents worth) to the guys we were having coffee with. One of the guys told me ( while laughing his head off after my observation), that“Gay guys want to make women look ugly, to eliminate the competition”. “To hell with this crazy world, like it’s not enough… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

I have to admit almost complete ignorance about the issue at hand.

Once an insider told me that there are three types of homosexuals: born, converted and half-converted (aka as bisexuals).

Is this true?

Margot
Guest

re#3 Stevan Harnad
Let’s dream big – after April 6 there will be a new DEMOCRATIC government and Eva gets the Kossuth prize 🙂

tappanch
Guest

“The legal environment of the election is manipulated”

1.
The election districts were created to maximize the Fidesz plurality
seats. [no judicial or other independent review of the boundaries was allowed]
2.
The party lists are distorted by two facts.

If in an election district party 1. gets x votes, party 2. gets y votes,
party 1 gets a mandate plus its (x-y) votes go into the party list. [this is new]
Party 2 gets 0 mandate and its y votes go into the party list.

The votes from ethnic Hungarians with no Hungarian address go to the
the party list.

http://nol.hu/belfold/20140218-manipulalt_kornyezetben

boliviano
Guest

tappanch, the thing with the nol.hu (Népszabadság online) interview is that the journalist is very tough on Szoboszlai.

The journalist Karoly Lencses somehow does not understand what the problem is with the system.

I guess people are fighting for their jobs, livelihoods at Népszabi, which was purchased by an Austrian investors who is most likely another Strohmann and who likes to be on good terms with Orban.

qaz
Guest

According to an article published today on the BBC News website, research would tend to disprove the central tenet of this new Hungarian movie: “The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26089486

OT about Nobu. I am very fond of Japanese cuisine. I am used to some of the best Japanese restaurants in NY and a couple of years ago I was treated to a few exclusive restaurants in Tokyo and I also went to a number of more basic sushi parlors there. I then went to Nobu in Budapest and I have to confess that It was not good. I felt as the food critic in Ratatouille (the animation movie): if it’s not good you do not swallow! To be fair, I should I known better and not try to compare, just taking it as a different experience.

petofi
Guest

@qaz

“…I should I known better and not try to compare…”

Why not? Standards are standards internationally, especially in cuisine. Hungarians always beg exceptionalization: they want comparisons such as Budapest restaurant with Szeged restaurant. Of course, using such a style of comparison Hungarian universities may even be deemed acceptable…

Tyrker
Guest

“On closer observation, it turns out that the film is about “how to come out of being gay”–that is, how to “cure oneself” of being gay.”

That’s a completely false interpretation. I have seen the movie. The plot is a typical coming out story with a twist: someone who always acted like a gay person – and even believed himself to be gay – finds out he’s actually attracted to women. Without this twist, the film would have been a boring me-too story about someone finding out about his suppressed homosexuality. By putting a twist on this tired old cliché, the filmmakers created an immensely funny and – for a Hungarian comedy – unusually professional movie that, at the end of the day, teaches viewers about tolerance and being able to laugh in the face of bigotry.

I am finding it extremely strange for you to write a piece about a film you have apparently not seen.

LwiiH
Guest
qaz : According to an article published today on the BBC News website, research would tend to disprove the central tenet of this new Hungarian movie: “The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26089486 OT about Nobu. I am very fond of Japanese cuisine. I am used to some of the best Japanese restaurants in NY and a couple of years ago I was treated to a few exclusive restaurants in Tokyo and I also went to a number of more basic sushi parlors there. I then went to Nobu in Budapest and I have to confess….. It’s not Japanese, it’s asian fusion and while my wife and I quite enjoyed it I think there are better places in the city certainly with better value. Mr. Vajnai was in attendance and without saying much I wasn’t impressed with his behavior. Aside from that I’m used to restaurant owners interacting with guests and he wasn’t much interested in who might be visiting his little project. We’ve not returned. As for the film, there are so many exceptionally good films playing in Budapest right now one would wonder why anyone would want to waste time on trashy propaganda. Who cares who’s gay and who… Read more »
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Mutt :
What is interesting in the US IMHo that there are more and more gay characters in everyday running TV shows, like Law and Order, etc. All these characters are depicted as real people. I mean nothing special about them. I think the entertainment industry stopped making “sad” gay movies (unless it’s a civil rights related story, like Milk). There is no need for it.

Indeed. ABC’s ‘Scandal’ comes to mind. The series features a male/male couple exactly as if it would a male/female one, including intimate scenes of everyday life: tenderness, jealousy, support, conflicts beetween committment and career, etc. Moreover, the White House Chief of Staff and his journalist spouse are certainly not secondary characters… notwithstanding the fact they are as (hilariously) wicked and scheming as the male/female couples!

It’s a breeze to see this on a screen. I think it is aired in Hungary as ‘Bótrany’ on the Universal Channel.

Mr. Paul
Guest
Tyrker : “On closer observation, it turns out that the film is about “how to come out of being gay”–that is, how to “cure oneself” of being gay.” That’s a completely false interpretation. I have seen the movie. The plot is a typical coming out story with a twist: someone who always acted like a gay person – and even believed himself to be gay – finds out he’s actually attracted to women. Without this twist, the film would have been a boring me-too story about someone finding out about his suppressed homosexuality. By putting a twist on this tired old cliché, the filmmakers created an immensely funny and – for a Hungarian comedy – unusually professional movie that, at the end of the day, teaches viewers about tolerance and being able to laugh in the face of bigotry. I am finding it extremely strange for you to write a piece about a film you have apparently not seen. This issue can be resolved rather easily. All we need to do is ask Éva whether she saw the film or not? And if not where did she come up with the idea that the film is about the topic of… Read more »
Reg
Guest

ATV’s 800,000 strong audience (cable viewers) was measured by traditional methods (presumably by Nielsens).

I was mentioning the youtube data. It’s a different media, people consume it differently. People have to search for the youtube videos and apparently not many fideszniks took the effort to do so. It seems Gyurcsany’s fans were more curious.

Guest

OT but interesting.

An Italian company sells spy software to governments:

We suspect that agencies of these 21 governments are current or former users of RCS: Azerbaijan, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, and Uzbekistan. Nine of these countries receive the lowest ranking, “authoritarian,” in The Economist’s 2012 Democracy Index.

https://citizenlab.org/2014/02/mapping-hacking-teams-untraceable-spyware/

The German SPIEGEL also reports on this:
http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/software-von-hacking-team-dient-der-hatz-auf-dissidenten-a-954027.html

Nugget
Guest

wolfi, French, British and Italian firms all sell spyware to all the dictatorships. This was made clear after the Arab-spring. In Libya, Tunisia and Egypt the revolutionaries found plenty of hard evidence of that. But probably other EU software companies also sell stuff to dictators.

When did last time the West have any scruples when it came to dealing with dictatorships?

I am not surprised that Hungarians also bought something. It’s important to remember though that the “internet freedoms” and “free internet” are really ideologies benefiting Silicon Valley and in some cases some European software companies. Internet primarily is another tool to surveil and control people. But until Hungarian or Uzbek kids want nothing more than a cool Iphone, they will be controlled.

tappanch
Guest

@wolfi

“We first provide a list of endpoints.”

81.183.229.xxx; Hungary; first seen:6/16/2012 ; Active

servers:
193.17.175.94; HU; MIKROWEB INTERNET KFT.
193.227.199.48;HU; TARR KFT.
37.17.173.22; HU; 23VNET KFT.

79.172.249.xxx; HU; DENINET KFT
84.21.7.xxx; DENINET KFT
87.229.65.179; DENINET KFT

80.253.180.6; BELTAV LTD
81.16.200.196; B.NET HUNGARIA TAVKOZLESI KFT.
81.183.229.xxx; MAGYAR TELEKOM CUSTOMERS USING STATIC IP
91.82.84.90; SYSTECH GLOBAL KFT

94.199.183.167; SZERVERNET LTD.
95.140.33.xxx; SZERVERNET LTD.
95.140.34.xxx; SZERVERNET LTD.

Samples
MD5: b520e9f198c365125d49e7894152eebb

tappanch
Guest

Former President Solyom has sharply criticized Paks 2.

http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20140218_Solyom_kemenyen_kikelt_a_hatalom_ellen

HiBoM
Guest

Is it realistic that in a country where most people are still not online, where there is tremendous political apathy, Gyurcsány’s speech was downloaded 800 000 times??? Of course it wasn’t. And that is not a criticism of FGy, but that level of internet interest in Hungary is just a fantasy. Someone has altered the counter.

Mr. Paul
Guest

HiBom of course 800 000 is not realistic. But that is not the number of internet downloads. It is the number of people who watched the speech on ATV. Which was broadcast by multiple times by ATV so it is probably of sum of everyone who’ve seen it. This is why it was so insane, that crazy nutjub conspiracy theories surfaced about ATV wanting to sabotage the speech on purpose.

Yesterday tappanch provided a very interesting quote which included a statement from a Rabbi:

“Regrettably, it is obvious that the Socialist Left party has decided that it’s worth it for them to cynically use Jews and the topic of anti-Semitism in the hopes that it will bring them victory in the upcoming elections. Unfortunately, many Jews and Jewish leaders participate in the elections, and the Socialists take advantage.” – Rabbi Baruch Oberlander

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