17th Jan: Puszta Cowboy and the Budapest Lesbian Film Collective
A short by the Budapest Lesbian Film Collective
Written & directed by Katrin Kremmler
Hungary 2004, BETA NTSC/DVD, 9’46’’
Hungarian with English subtitles
Katrin Kremmler, C/o Labrisz Association, PO Box 408, H – 1395 Budapest, Hungary, E-mail: K.Kremmler@gmx.net
Crew: Director, screenplay, animation : Katrin Kremmler
Camera, editor: Eszter Muszter
Sound: Noár Horváth
Cast: Bence Solymár the cowboy
Szini the bandit
Élisabeth Forestier the Indian
Katrin Kremmler the girlfriend
Balázs Pálfi narrator
The cowboy’s girlfriend has been kidnapped by an evil Lesbian bandit. Is he man enough to save her? The first Hungarian Lesbian – Transgender – Paprikawestern (parody), complete with horse, gunfight, goulash, and traditional Hungarian csárdás-dancing.
The Transgender subject
In Hungary, gender roles are still quite traditional. I got the idea to „Puszta Cowboy“ when a Lesbian activist friend came out as a transman, and successfully had his sex changed in his papers, even before starting in on the hormones or having surgery. If Hungary hadn’t dropped the compulsory army draft that year, they would even have drafted him. In following his transition, I became aware of his constant day-to-day struggle of being properly perceived and appreciated while at the same time being culturally totally invisible and without a supportive background. For quite some time, even some of our common Lesbian friends didn’t think he was really serious in becoming a man, as no surgery and hormones were involved just yet. So where is the line? What makes you acceptable as a man, and how much sense do these cultural expectations make?
The Western Genre, being all about the construction of heroic masculinity, provides a perfect setting for the transitional transman hero to „become a man“ – but, of course, according to his own definition.
The Hungarian folklore features („Paprika Western“) of the narrative make sure the Hungarian audience understands that the hero is claiming his space within his own culture, they „bring the subject home“. The cowboy is introduced by quotations from „the“ Hungarian national heroic epos („Toldi“, by János Arany, 19th century), which every Hungarian schoolkid has to learn by heart, praising a hero of superhuman strength so young that he is still beardless. The perfect image for a transman in transition, with the still absent beard being perceived as contradicting his male identity. A viewpoint which, in an unexpected twist at the end of the story, is exposed as superficial and stupid, as of course it is.
As I experienced at a number of international screenings, the strategy of „bringing the subject home“ also works the other way, „bringing the subject out to the world“, as the folklor features frame the content for an international audience mostly ignorant of Hungarian culture besides just those folklore stereotypes. And the Western genre everybody can relate to. A North African Lesbian film maker, Dalila Kadri, told me she liked my movie as it made her aware of the similar strategies of representation Lesbian filmmakers dealing with issues of North-South and East-West have to use. That was very important feedback for me.
2004 IX. LGBT Filmfestival Budapest, Hungary
2004 el be fest dni lesbickej kultúry – Lesbian Cultural Festival Bratislava, Slovakia
2004 Cinéffable Lesbian Filmfestival, Paris, France
2005 Pink Apple Zürich, Switzerland
2005 Pinkscreens Brussels, Belgium
2005 Transgender Filmfestival Amsterdam, Netherlands
2005 New Fest New York
2005 Frameline San Francisco
2005 Roze Filmdagen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2005 Mezipatra Prague/Brno, Czech Republic
2005 Hamburg LGBT Filmfestival, Germany
2005 Queersicht Bern, Switzerland
2006 Queerscreens Sydney, Australia
2006 Melbourne LGBT Filmfestival, Australia
2006 London LGBT Filmfestival, UK
2006 Sparkle Transgender Filmfestival Birmingham, UK
2006 Toronto Queer Filmfestival
2006 Feminale International Womens’ Filmfestival Cologne/Dortmund, Germany
2006 Amilliondifferentloves Queer Filmfestival Leipzig/Germany and Lodz/Poland
About the Director
I’m a German-Hungarian writer, multimedia artist and Lesbian activist, born in 1972, living in Budapest, Hungary.
I’m a founding member of the Budapest Lesbian Film Collective, whose first two films, „What’s 1 Young Lesbian Supposed To Do In The Big City? A Beginner’s Guide“ (2000/2002, 16’, VHS) and „The Pink Ferret“ (2003, 51’), I wrote and directed.
I’m the initiator and co-organiser of Hungary’s first Lesbian Festival („LIFT“) in 2005, and a curator of the 11th Budapest LGBT Filmfestival and Pride 2006. These I’m the
author of three Lesbian mystery novels (in German, www.argument.de) and a cartoon book („Dykes On Dykes“, in English, www.konkursbuch.de), all published in Germany. In 2006, I completed my first animation („Womb Raider, 6’). Currently, I’m working on a short film screenplay for a Hungarian/Swiss coproduction.
Documenting and Entertaining our Community:
The Budapest Lesbian Filmcollective
In Hungary, Lesbians are culturally invisible, the occasional stereotype projections of Lesbians in mainstream media are mostly negative, sexist and offensive. There are no positive images of Lesbians and Lesbian lifestyle that a Lesbian audience can appreciate. This is why in 2000 we founded the Budapest Lesbian Filmcollective, a group of semi-professional Lesbian filmmakers in Budapest, making Lesbian no-budget movies. Our first video „What’s 1 Young Lesbian Supposed To Do In The Big City? A Beginner’s Guide“ (2000/2002, 16’, VHS) was the first Hungarian movie for Lesbians made by Lesbians ever; our feature movie „The Pink Ferret“ (2003, 51’) the first Lesbian made Hungarian feature movie.
In 2004, our members decided to do a variety of 10’ shorts mirroring our wide range of interests: a music video clip, two documentaries, and two pieces of fiction, one of which is „Puszta Cowboy“. In 2005 and 2006, documentaries were made.
All of our pieces have been screened at a number of international LGBT and other film festivals.
We annually introduce our movies at the Hungarian LGBT Filmfestival and Pride (the 11th in 2006), a cultural event becoming more and more interesting for straight people as well, providing a space for dialogue and understanding.
As Lesbian filmmaking doesn’t receive any institutional support in Hungary (yet), so far we worked on donations and our private sources – if we had waited for money, we wouldn’t have gotten anything done at all. But by now, some of our members (including me) would like to reach a more professional level, which means looking for some proper funding for future projects.
Our group is part of Labrisz Association (www.labrisz.hu, firstname.lastname@example.org), the only Lesbian NGO in Hungary, promoting Lesbian rights and visibility, co-organiser of the Budapest LGBT Filmfestival and Pride. In October 2005, Labrisz organised its first Lesbian Festival („LIFT“) in Budapest (www.labrisz.hu/lift).
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