The Private and the Public in Kádár's Kiss by Péter Forgács
More than fifteen years have passed since the change of the political regime in Eastern Europe, but the countries of the former Soviet bloc still face the fundamental challenge of how to deal with the events of their recent past, how to come to terms with the legacy of Socialism and its local versions. There are countless ways of approaching these issues, but I will focus on the possibilities of interpretation provided by creative documentaries. The material for my analysis is Péter Forgács's film Kádár's Kiss (1997, the original Hungarian title is Csermanek csókja, meaning Csermanek's Kiss), which by its unconventional treatment of the “private” and the “public” offers a provocative and subversive interpretation of the most exciting period of the Kádár regime, the first half of the 1960s, often referred to as the establishment of “goulash Communism” or the post1956 consolidation. This unique audiovisual collage unveils the dichotomy of appearances and the world behind them. This effect is enhanced by the juxtaposition of amateur films and archival footages through splendid sequences of montage.
Contemporary newsreels and amateur footages constitute the visual source of Péter Forgács's film. Amateur films are important documents of the period in question because of their role within society, their visual energy, and the wide range of possible ways of using them. Amateur films are also called family footages, private films, non-professional films, and home movies. These terms are frequently used as synonyms, and not always wrongly so, but it is important to note that they often highlight different aspects of the same phenomenon: one refers to the