The Free University

About

 
 

Background

In 2018, Hungary banned gender studies degrees, subjected the Academy of Sciences to direct political control and exiled Central European University: the first European country to force out a university since World War II. This exile did not happen overnight. Central European University has faced a relentless torrent of misinformation, propaganda and open hostility since the passage of the Lex CEU law in 2017. Despite international outcry and warnings from US and European policymakers, the Hungarian government refused to back down. By fall of 2018, it became clear these attacks on academic freedom were symptoms of a wider, more sinister trend. In the past ten years, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party Fidesz have shut down independent newspapers, stripped the judiciary of its autonomy and taxed NGOs out of operation. This year, Freedom House warned that Hungary had become the first country in the EU to regress from “free” to “partly free”. The situation is dire: democracy is disintegrating.

Film Synopsis

Szabad Egyetem/ The Free University, follows students and allies of the Central European University as they struggle to resist attacks by an authoritarian government.

Team

 
 
Jonathan Hunter, Director   Born in the UK, Jonathan moved to Budapest in 2016, where he learned documentary filmmaking and studied obscure European philosophers at the Central European University. Jonathan has since made several short films, including professional videos for universities, promotional videos for organisations, and European Union cultural heritage projects. He now works as a freelance filmmaker and videographer in Florence, Italy.

Jonathan Hunter, Director

Born in the UK, Jonathan moved to Budapest in 2016, where he learned documentary filmmaking and studied obscure European philosophers at the Central European University. Jonathan has since made several short films, including professional videos for universities, promotional videos for organisations, and European Union cultural heritage projects. He now works as a freelance filmmaker and videographer in Florence, Italy.

Lucie Janotová, Co-Director   Lucie is a political scientist and artist interested in unconventional activism, specifically in social movements that use art, humour and satire in their fight with oppressive governments. In her work, she combines academic research with artistic practices in the form of visual projects and site-specific performances. After obtaining her Master’s Degree from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, she moved to Florence, Italy, where she is currently pursuing her PhD in Political Sociology at Scuola Normale Superiore.

Lucie Janotová, Co-Director

Lucie is a political scientist and artist interested in unconventional activism, specifically in social movements that use art, humour and satire in their fight with oppressive governments. In her work, she combines academic research with artistic practices in the form of visual projects and site-specific performances. After obtaining her Master’s Degree from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, she moved to Florence, Italy, where she is currently pursuing her PhD in Political Sociology at Scuola Normale Superiore.

 
Ádám   Hushegyi, Editor & Translator    Ádám grew up in Bratislava and later moved to Prague, pursuing his education in English and North American Studies at Charles University. He worked at NYU Prague for several years, as well as a freelance translator and English teacher. In 2018, Ádám left for Budapest to complete a 1-year program at Central European University’s Nationalism Studies Department. Since arriving to Hungary, he has contributed to several short films and documentaries and he is currently assisting first-time filmmakers at CEU as Media & Visual Education Assistant.

Ádám Hushegyi, Editor & Translator

Ádám grew up in Bratislava and later moved to Prague, pursuing his education in English and North American Studies at Charles University. He worked at NYU Prague for several years, as well as a freelance translator and English teacher. In 2018, Ádám left for Budapest to complete a 1-year program at Central European University’s Nationalism Studies Department. Since arriving to Hungary, he has contributed to several short films and documentaries and he is currently assisting first-time filmmakers at CEU as Media & Visual Education Assistant.

Ifra Asad, Cinematographer   Ifra Asad recently graduated with a degree in Public Policy from the Central European University. Prior to this, she worked in civil society organizations concerning women's rights, children's education and minorities' issues. Alongside this, she has co-created a series of short films where she has played the roles of filmmaker, animator, as well as editor, and is currently producing two separate short documentaries. Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, she currently resides in Budapest, Hungary.

Ifra Asad, Cinematographer

Ifra Asad recently graduated with a degree in Public Policy from the Central European University. Prior to this, she worked in civil society organizations concerning women's rights, children's education and minorities' issues. Alongside this, she has co-created a series of short films where she has played the roles of filmmaker, animator, as well as editor, and is currently producing two separate short documentaries. Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, she currently resides in Budapest, Hungary.


Mackenzie Nelson, Producer   Mackenzie currently works as a Researcher and Project Manager at AlgorithmWatch—a Berlin-based tech policy NGO. Prior to starting with AlgorithmWatch, she worked in transatlantic policy communications at the Heinrich Böll Foundation's office in Washington D.C. Mackenzie holds an M.A. in Public Administration from the Central European University’s School of Public Policy and a B.A. in International Politics and History from Jacobs University Bremen. When she’s not watching algorithms, she enjoys cycling, listening to podcasts on 1.25 speed, and watching (and sometimes making) documentary films.

Mackenzie Nelson, Producer

Mackenzie currently works as a Researcher and Project Manager at AlgorithmWatch—a Berlin-based tech policy NGO. Prior to starting with AlgorithmWatch, she worked in transatlantic policy communications at the Heinrich Böll Foundation's office in Washington D.C. Mackenzie holds an M.A. in Public Administration from the Central European University’s School of Public Policy and a B.A. in International Politics and History from Jacobs University Bremen. When she’s not watching algorithms, she enjoys cycling, listening to podcasts on 1.25 speed, and watching (and sometimes making) documentary films.