People need holidays. Individually and collectively. It has not always been called a holiday, but since ancient times there has been a need for days when members of a tribe, clan or nation come together to celebrate an event, to rest from the monotonous tasks and struggles of everyday life, to rejoice together. For the film community, every festival is a much-needed and much-awaited celebration, a relaxation, a recharging, where filmmakers with the same interests, though often speaking different languages, but who understand the common language of the profession, can come together, exchange ideas and experiences. At least this is how I have experienced every festival I have had the pleasure of attending. And that was no small thing. But for me, the Alexandre Trauner Art/Film Festival, now more than fifty years old, stands out from the rest, because it pays special attention to the visual arts, focusing on the visual experience.
The film works through several senses, since it has not been „silent” for quite a long time, but we can also “enjoy” it through touch and smell it through our noses, but still, it is mostly through our eyes that we are affected by the visuals. And this is where its obvious link with the visual arts is shown. This is why I am particularly pleased that the Szolnok Festival has dedicated a special category to films on the theme of fine art. And this also includes the animated film, which is so dear to me. Another, almost rarity, is the category of youth and student films. Other festivals also have a so-called first film category, however, there you can enter a first film by even a 60-year-old filmmaker. The films entered in this category give us a glimpse of the future generation’s attitudes, worldview and talents, and give us an idea of where the world is heading.
After a pre-selection of thousands of films, each film shortlisted for the competition can be considered a winner and, even if it is not shortlisted, has a good chance of being selected for another festival, where a different jury will prefer other films based on different criteria. Therefore, all participants can definitely enjoy the rich professional programme, conferences and masterclasses that make the festival a more and more prestigious event and a more and more colourful gathering year after year.
The enjoyment of this common celebration is greatly enhanced by the welcoming atmosphere of the city of Szolnok, the charming atmosphere, the Tisza bank, the Tisza Cinema and the community experience that brings filmmakers and the curious public who are open to the genre back in ever-increasing numbers year after year. The fact that this event has been able to take place uninterruptedly to date is due to the unparalleled efforts of the festival organisers, István Demeter and Éva Demeter, whose skill and expertise help to create the conditions for an increasingly prestigious international festival, even in increasingly difficult circumstances.
And here, in the context of difficult circumstances, we must mention the long-standing epidemic of covid, the deepening economic crisis, and the most threatening of all, the war in our immediate neighbourhood. In such an environment, a good convivial gathering is all the more valuable as a living refutation of the saying “in war, muses are silent”.
I hope that the threatening clouds will not overshadow this year’s festival and that we will be able to rejoice and celebrate together-thank God, not excluding the creators of any nation-in Szolnok.