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Dec 2, 2019 7:00 PM

Mind the Wall!

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall that physically and ideologically divided Europe during the Cold War, we invite you to see a hand-picked selection of top- shelf animated short lms, which re ect the historical moment of 1989.

December 2, 7 PM in the Cinema

Film screening and Q&A
Curious how animators in the Eastern Block thought about the changes brought by 1989?

Central Eastern European Cultural Centers invite you to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain, the physical and ideological demarcation line in Europe during the Cold War. Balassi Institute - Hungarian Cultural Center in New York presents together with the Czech Center New York, the Consulate General of Slovak Republic in New York and the Polish Cultural Institute New York, the animated short film screening Mind the wall! at the Bohemian National Hall on December 2 at 7 pm. Join us to see a hand-picked selection of top-shelf auteur animated short films, made in the time of or about the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, marking the end of an era. The program is curated by Anna Ida Orosz, Budapest based animation historian, festival programmer, and curator and will be introduced by Eszter Polonyi, Visiting Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Design of the Pratt Institute.

The screening is free and open to the public.
The selection features shorts for mature audiences.


The former Soviet satellite countries in Central-Eastern Europe like Poland, Hungary, and Czecho-Slovakia – today known as the Visegrad Group, or V4 – used to be world leaders of auteur animation before 1989. Wildly imaginative animated short films were made in these countries signaled the coming downfall of Communism by depicting the political and social anomalies of authoritarian state socialism with a surprising degree of openness.

Within the oeuvre of many animation filmmakers, the genre of social and political allegory became increasingly common, in which they developed a way of addressing the complex social and political problems of the real world in an indirect manner to outsmart repressive censorship on the media. Characterized by parables with political overtones and a highly sinister mood, these animations were often filled with subtexts, and the audience had to lookfor what had been written ‘between the lines’. During the softening dictatorship of the 1980s, these short films evoked the age of ‘glasnost’ laying the way for the change of regime, whenopenness and transparency became more and more vocal.

In bitingly humorous satires like “Scones” or “Easter Greetings”, grim messages are concealedby the comic form of expression, which makes these films about the illusion of free will within a strictly controlled system, seen as a less serious art form. Films like “Mind the Steps!” or “The Race”, put individuals of various social groups in seemingly everyday situations such as afurniture-moving in a Budapest apartment block or a bicycle race, which in the end become symbols of some politically and socially charged universal phenomena. Although these films were made in the euphoric year of 1989, when the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain came down, there are no signs of optimism in them. Disillusionment with omnipresent social ideologies and distrust in grand narratives also appear in the whimsical, darkly comic “The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia” by the Czech surrealist avant-garde master, Jan Svankmajer, in which the never- ending resurrection of the material gives an uneasy, bizarre feel.

No wonder that the wall has prevailed as a symbol of the bipolar world order, which best describes everyday experiences in Central-East Europe. The political potential of animated films is still important for new generations of animation artists, who have been claiming a place for short animated films in the world of animation during the last 30 years. The highly allegorical puppet-film “In the Box” drew on the tradition of the abstract and minimalistic language ofanimation, while political fairy tales by female directors like “Esterhazy” and “Untravel” enrichthe anthology of claymations with their pulpy realism.

About the Curator

Anna Ida Orosz (1986, Budapest, Hungary) is an animation historian, festival programmer, and curator. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), where she is writing her dissertation on the 1970–80 animated documentaries made in Hungary. She is a lecturer in animation history at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest and has been working as an animation specialist at the Hungarian National Film Archive since 2012. She is the co-founder and curator of Primanima World Festival of First Animations since 2012, and of Animated Spirits – New Animation From Europe since 2015. She has been a jury member and a curator for both retrospective and contemporary Hungarian animation programs for major international animation film festivals including Dok Leipzig (Leipzig, Germany), Monstra (Lisbon, Portugal), Animator (Poznan, Poland), Fest Anca (Zilina, Slovakia), and Animateka (Ljubljana, Slovenia).

About Eszter Polonyi

Eszter Polonyi is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Design of the Pratt Institute. Her research focuses on the history of film, photography and moving image media and their intersections with more traditional art forms. Her dissertation examined the film aesthetics of the Weimar-era Béla Balázs (Columbia University, 2017). Her writing has appeared in the “Metropolis”, “The New Review for Film and Television”, “Found Footage Magazine” andforthcoming essay collections on early Leftist cinema (Austrian Filmmuseum) and on the recovery of early cinema in the postwar experimental tradition (Indiana University Press). She isa regular contributor to “Apertura”.

Screening order:

Scones by Gyula Nagy HUNGARY (1984) 9’
Easter Greetings by Béla Weisz HUNGARY (1987) 2’
The Race by Marek Serafiński POLAND (1989) 12’
Mind the Steps! by István Orosz HUNGARY (1989) 6’
The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia by Jan Švankmajer CZECHOSLOVAKIA, UK (1990) 10’
In the Box by Michal Struss SLOVAKIA (1999) 6’
Untravel by Nikola Majdak Jr., Ana Nedeljković SERBIA, SLOVAKIA (2018) 10’
Esterhazy by Izabela Plucińska GERMANY, POLAND (2008) 25’

Press Release:


Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Dec 2, 2019 7:00 PM


Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event

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