Be Curious and Always Be Prepared for Changes

By Lilla Puskas, Hungary

Lilla Puskas

While receiving a good grounding in film history and art theory in Budapest, I also started visiting A-list film festivals, in order to indulge my curiosity about the latest trends of world cinema. The wish for bringing my opinion into discussion brought me to journalism.

Around the time I began publishing reviews, an institutional realignment took place in the film industry of my home country. Since this paradigm shift, the number of international co-productions has increased, and local genre films have been produced in a larger proportion. Also, some of our talented live-action and animation filmmakers could create innovative pieces, which got invited to festivals worldwide. Hungarian filmmakers recently hit the headline many times after receiving prominent prizes, as the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, and the Golden Bear. In the new financing system the focus has been clearly set on filmmaking, whereas other areas of film culture, education and criticism among them, got pushed into the background.

Due to drastic changes within the Hungarian media landscape, the space for autonomous cultural criticism has narrowed down radically. Away from the abrupt closure of the largest opposition newspaper, the structure of the art funding system was also reformed, resulting in a financial cut for cultural journals and online portals in 2015 and 2016. Even though two years later these funds seem to get restored, a considerable number of journalists had to change their media outlet in the meantime or abandon their profession under financial pressure. These processes aggravated the already existing problems of limited media pluralism. The lack of divergent opinions and especially the scarcity of female voices in criticism keep on calling for urgent changes.

After working in the Hungarian environment for six years, recently I seek to publish in international media. As a freelance journalist I have the choice to cherry-pick the movies I review. In my festival coverage, I often highlight films, which will not get into theatrical distribution but might be available at smaller local festivals. This makes my work similar to that of curators who gain a perspective on on-going global tendencies and present their own selection to the audience.

I have always aimed to explore a large variety of cultures and accordingly I have lived in five different countries in the last eight years. I believe cosmopolitism teaches us how to be flexible what is key for my generation; and that goes double for film critics as we need to stay prepared for significant changes all the time, and keep up to date with technology, media tools and politics.