The Life of an Agent
Situated in the long wooden barracks at the side of Memento Park, an intimate theater reveals the fascinating secrets of socialist era spies. Visitors to the statues next door, in whose shadows the building lies, will find the permanently looped tales of blackmail.
Back in the old days, the Ministry of Interior Affairs had its own film studio where – between the years 1958 and 1988 – several hundred short and full-length films were produced. These films provided training and instruction to secret police agents on how to defend law and order. Nowadays some of the films might seem funny or absurd, but under the dark days of dictatorship these were deadly serious. Realizing the potential these films had to educate and entertain director Gábor Zsigmond Pap, in 2004, created a montage by editing this footage as well as filming reconstructions based on the information garnered from it.
In viewing these previously top-secret scenes, viewers learn about the methods these agents used, as well as about the work of their commanding officers and state security experts. They also learn about how they were recruited, sadly often through bribery or coercion. These tactics were shamelessly admitted internally, something which now makes fascinating viewing for those who lived under this regime as well as for outsiders.
You can see the paranoia which lurked at the heart of the system as films detail all the possible ways in which people’s actions might be counter-revolutionary or the traits that such a person might show. In other footage, the various “post boxes” used by informants to pass information onto undercover agents are shown. These are bizarre and diverse, from a piece of “rubbish” thrown casually in a park, to the secret space behind a framed poster in a cinema.
This montage, using the most exciting excerpts taken from period films, is a truly singular presentation of the operations and mindset of this ruthless organization run by the Kádár regime as the dictatorship attempted to keep its grip on power.
The film is divided into four 10-15-minute-long segments:
1. The way to hide bugs
2. Introduction to house-searching
3. Methods of recruitment
4. Effective networking
The film is being shown in Memento Park in Hungarian, with English subtitles. A DVD version is available in the Memento Park shop.
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