Collection of films

    Film and Video Collection

    Museum of Ethnography researchers and filmmakers were already producing films on ethnographic topics in the 1930's. The Museum of Ethnography Film Studio, however, only began its official operations as part of the Museum of Ethnography Archives in 1985, under the direction of János Papp.

    As part of the greater institution, the Studio's functions are to produce documentary and educational films on ethnographic, ethnological, science history, and museological topics; to preserve, manage, and catalogue the material of the Films Collection; and to attend to various duties related to public collections and public relations.

    The Film and Video Collection preserves over 250 finished films and film annotations, of which the majority are recorded on 16 mm medium, with only a smaller number produced using video technology. Though the collection includes some edited full-sound productions, a significant portion of its material consists of uncut, 16-mm, black-and-white recordings. The process of cataloguing the films, restoring film annotations, and converting 16-mm material to video technology began in the early 1990's. As a result, the ethnographic subject material treated by the museum's film collection is now fully accessible to both researchers and the public at large. The films cover a broad spectrum of topical areas, including farming, crafts, folk customs, and various forms of folk art. The material dealing with folk dancing, filmed at sites located both in Hungary and abroad, offers a particularly rich view of this aspect of folk culture. Included in the collection are not only cinematic materials of import to Hungarian ethnography, but also recordings of numerous other world cultures, some produced by Hungarian researchers and others contributed to the collection by charitable donors.

    The earliest Hungarian ethnographic film recordings in the Film and Video Collection were taken by the ethnographer Ébner Sándor Gönyey in the 1930's. Most of the material in the collection, however, was produced between 1940 and 1970. The Archive's films thus encompass a significant portion of Hungarian ethnographic cinematographic history, reflecting various scientific and cinematographic trends and methods. A large number of the films on folk dancing were produced during the 1940's with the aid of the Institute for Folk Science. The collection also includes many amateur recordings taken by ethnographic researchers on folk customs or occupations that have since fallen completely out existence. Of the works of more familiar directors and ethnographic filmmakers, the collection includes reels by István Szőts, Anna Raffay, and László Keszi-Kovács, valuable not only for the ethnographic material they preserve, but also for their place in the history of cinematography.

    In recent years, in addition to preserving and restoring archived cinematographic material, the employees of the Film Studio, in co-operation with the employees and researchers of the museum, have produced numerous films on ethnographic topics. The year 1995 saw the publication of the Ethnographic Film Catalogue, which includes information on the collection's edited films and annotations, a brief description of each film, and a list of the types of copies available for check-out.

    The museum's complete film holdings are accessible in digitised form via on-site computer workstation during research service hours. See here for the subject index of the museum's Film Catalogue (in Hungarian).

    The curator of the collection is Judit Csorba.


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