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The Last Spark of Communism

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'Rododendron' Short Film


BACKGROUND "Iron Curtain" was the name of the metaphoric barrier separating communist Eastern Europe from the West during the Cold War. The symbolic fence-cutting at the Austro-Hungarian border led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of communist regimes in Europe. However, in Hungary the road to democracy was a long and tough way, paved with emotional turmoils and individual tragedies. The short film Rododendron focuses on "the last spark" of communist regime before it burns away once and for all, showing the absurdity of authoritarian systems. The aim of our campaign was to raise awareness for this film, and make the Hungarian audience revisit this important era in the history of Hungary – and see those events from a different, unseen perspective. We had a budget of 2500 Euros to spend; the campaign focused on cinemas nationwide to raise awareness and create interest in the audience of movie-goers. CREATIVE IDEA The short film Rododendron takes us back to the exact day, 27 June 1989, when the fence of infamous "Iron Curtain" was cut. The film shows that historic moment from an unusual perspective: from the point of two domestic secret agents of the communist Hungarian Intelligence Service. So the visual idea expresses that unusual perspective: we see a badge of the communist red star, revealing that a single matchstick is holding it, symbolizing the very last days of the communist regime, which is about to burn away. The red star, the symbol of communism is a powerful icon in itself. But we wanted the express that the hayday's of communism were over. We showed not the front, but the BACK of that badge. Attached to a single matchstick, this symbol is really about expressing the last spark of communism, thus creating a poetic reference to the theme of the film. EXECUTION Rododendron depicts the last days of Hungarian communist regime and we wanted to re-create the emotional state of those times: uncertainty, fear and bleakness. Our image is black&white to express that atmoshere; only the head of the match is RED. The white lines suggest monotony and suppression, referring to the faceless power of communism. The badge is floating above that featurless texture; the star itself has the same featurless, plain stripes. Only the match-stick stands out of this composition, symbolizing the power of indiviuals, the fragility of authoritarian regimes. We wanted to make people feel uncomfortable, yet curious, so once this unusual perspective catches their attention, they start asking questions about the true story of Regime Change in Hungary. The campaign/film launch was set exactly on the same day – June 27th – when the story takes place, on the day of that historic fence-cutting of the "Iron Curtain". MEDUIM/TECHNIQUE Black, red and gray ink, hand drawn. Equipment: Isograph. Paper: hot press illustration board. EDITING No retouching, post-production editing or digital enhancements were made. RESULTS Rododendron introduced a historic moment to a younger generation of movie-goers, helping them understant that era much better, broadening their cultural horizon. The campaign and the film started a conversation about the history of Regime Change in Hungary, and made Hungarian more aware of their historic roots, giving them a new perspective of those turbulent and sensitive times.