How filmstrip, vintage projectors are adored by Hungarian children


By AGENCY

Ferenc Biro, filmstrip collector and owner of the Virtual Museum of Slide Film, shows the museum's filmstrips in Budapest. Photo: AFP

Tablets and mobile phones may have to be prised from the fingers of children elsewhere, but in Hungary storytime can be all about a 100-year-old piece of tech – filmstrip.

Generations of kids there have been enthralled with stories told with the help of a projector.

Alexandra Csosz-Horvath turns off the lights and reads Sleeping Beauty from a series of still captioned images projected onto the bedroom wall – her three- and seven-year-old clearly under her spell.

“We’re together, it’s cozier than the cinema yet it’s better than a book,” said the 44-year-old lawyer.

Filmstrip – a century-old storytelling medium that was killed off in the West by the video cassette in the 1980s – is not just hanging on in Hungary, it is thriving with a new wave of enthusiasts charmed by its slower-paced entertainment.

Printed on rolls of film, the still images were never meant to move.

Long tradition “Between the 1940s and the 1980s filmstrips were used worldwide as a cost-effective visualisation tool in education and other fields,” said Levente Borsos of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea.

The Csosz-Horvath family hold a slide film screening in their home. Photo: AFP The Csosz-Horvath family hold a slide film screening in their home. Photo: AFP

But while it was surpassed by more advanced technologies in the West, it became a popular form of home entertainment in the Soviet bloc where TVs and videos were harder to come by.

When communism collapsed, filmstrip began to disappear – except in Hungary, where the Diafilmgyarto company survives as the country’s sole producer.

“Continuous filmstrip publishing and slide shows at home can be considered a Hungarian peculiarity, a special part of the country’s cultural heritage,” said Borsos.

Revival time

Diafilmgyarto has seen sales rebound from 60,000 in the 1990s to 230,000 rolls last year.

Each film – produced solely for the domestic market – costs around €5 (RM25), less than a cinema ticket. Most are adaptations of classic fairytales or children’s books.

One bestseller, Hungarian classic The Old Lady And The Fawn which is about a woman taking care of a young deer, has been in the top 10 since its release in 1957, according to Diafilmgyarto’s managing director Gabriella Lendvai.

There has been a resurgence in demand for filmstrips since the 2000s as enthusiasts appreciate the chance for slower, more intimate storytelling. Photo: AFP There has been a resurgence in demand for filmstrips since the 2000s as enthusiasts appreciate the chance for slower, more intimate storytelling. Photo: AFP

The company also commissions artists, including some famous Hungarians, to create exclusive content for its filmstrips.

“(It’s) an irreplaceable tradition in Hungarian culture,” said Beata Hajdu-Toth, who attended a recent filmstrip screening in a Budapest cinema along with her son to celebrate Diafilmgyarto’s 70th anniversary.

“I am very happy it’s part of our life and hopefully I will be able to narrate to my grandchildren as well,” the 37-year-old added.

At her home in the Budapest suburbs, Csosz-Horvath also hails the tradition, preferring it to fast-paced cartoons, which she said drive the children “wild”.

“They just can’t understand that what happens in three seconds on the screen happens in three hours in real life,” she said.

With filmstrips “they don’t believe that everything happens in the blink of an eye.” – AFP

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Hungary , filmstrip , storytelling , medium , vintage

   

Next In Culture

Forever fad: Rubik says his cube 'reminds us why we have hands'
Theatre show offers an entertaining, thought-provoking look at sewage treatment
Malaysian illustrator Tuan Nini, based in Romania, shares her art journey
Pop-up prison exhibit in Penang showcases history of Malaysia's first two inmates
Malaysian illustrator Erica Eng named in Forbes' '30 Under 30 Asia' list
K-pop group NewJeans voices British Museum's official Korean audio guide
Weekend For The Arts: Raito Low's short films, KL Colour District exhibition
Violin village: artisanal hub in Bolivian Amazon
Man pleads not guilty to chopping down one of Britain's most famous trees
King Charles III sees red in new official portrait

Others Also Read