Budapest, 12th November 2019. The local time. 6 p.m. The 'Corvin Mozi' cinema is showing a premiere of a very special movie. The title of this movie.'Hosszú út'. In English. 'A long way'. It should be a documentary about the autistic care called „Janka Tanya”. 'A long way' was produced by 'Spar Magyarország' (Spar Hungary).
What is Janka Tanya?
Janka Tanya is a care place for autistic people, which is located in the village of Tótvázsony. Well, but 'care' is the wrong word to describe 'Janka Tanya' correctly. It is a place, more a small farm where autistics have the chance to work. The jobs they have to do are very diverse. They work also in a small hotel and they do community work in Tótvázsony as well. Everyone, no matter how impaired they are, have a place there. There is no hierarchy, all of them are equal. And of course. Everybody gets a salary. That is a concept which is unique in whole Hungary. That was maybe one of the reasons for this documentary.
Dealing with mentally impaired people in Hungary and Eastern Europe
As already mentioned, "Janka Tanya" is probably so special because the concept of inclusion of people with disabilities is unique in Hungary and very rare in Eastern Europe. People with mental impairments are at the end of what is still very hierarsch society in Eastern Europe. They are seen much more as a burden, not an opportunity. I would like to illustrate how far contempt can extend, with an example from the vicinity of Budapest.
In 2017, the British-Hungarian NGO "Mental Disability Advocacy Centre" uncovered almost unbelievable conditions in a home for people with disabilities in the city of Göd. Conditions that actually belong to the Middle Ages and which cannot be believed to still exist in 21st century Europe.
The home in which it was concerned was opened in 1977 in a former castle. Here, 220 people who are severely and/or physically impaired should be cared for and supported in their daily lives. However, this did not happen there. On the contrary.
The study was published under the title "Stench, Wounds and Straitjackets". The report talks about bondage, indecenting, untreated wounds and even torture. It is reported about conditions like from a horror movie.
Another example dates back to 2013 from the town of Szilv svrad. As part of an EU project, people with disabilities from a home near Miskolc should be housed centrally in order to raise their standard of living and improve integration. Some of the residents resisted the accommodation in their small town with their hands and feet.
These are just two short examples (both are linked in the sources) to show the significance of the project "Janka Tanya".
All the better that a film has been made about it. Let's hope that as many people as possible will see it.
Spar Magyarország and Janka Tanya
But why did 'Spar Magyarország' produce this movie? This question is easy to answer. Besides of Janka Tanya itself, the village and the hotel, the colleagues of Janka Tanya also work in the big 'INTERSpar' in Veszprém. There, for example, they are responsible for the goods clearance. In addition, they distribute the advertising flyer of Spar and INTERSpar once a week.
There is a close connection between Spar and Janka Tanya. This will also be shown in the movie.
On the 12th of November it finally happened. After weeks of filming, the film was finally shown in the cinema. 150 guests were invited, among them the filmmakers, representatives of Spar Magyarország and the Dutch ambassador.
In addition, the guests included the parents of Janka Tanya's colleagues, the mayor of Tótvázsony, as well as his predecessors and many friends.
Of course, there were also the stars of the film, the main cast, the colleagues from Janka Tanya and the two founders Janneke and Kati.
Oh, right. And I was standing around somewhere as well.
The day of the premiere has started normaly. In the morning hours we worked normaly. But you could see in everybodys behaviour the nervousness. For me it was also a very special day. I even put on a shirt. I usually hate that. But this premiere was also important to me.
At 2 p.m. the bus finally arrived in Tótvázsony to pick us up. After two short stops in Némesvámos and at the INTERSpar in Veszprém, the bus finally brought us to the cinema in Budapest.
With a little delay of 15 minutes, we finally arrived at the cinema. Representatives of 'Spar Magyarország' have already waited there. For our guests was up to the presentation at 6 p.m. sufficient care. Also with own waiters.
At 6 p.m. we entered the cinema. I sat next to or between our colleagues and their parents. So I was able to see how proud they were during the movie screening. For me personally, the best moment of the evening.
However, before the movie started, after a small introduction by the presenter, both Kati and Janneke were interviewed. Since everything was exclusively in Hungarian, of course I have been able to understand every word without any problems.
After the interviews, the movie should begin. This one was only in Hungarian. However, sometimes you do not need a language to understand.
Although I speak virtually no Hungarian, I understood every word. Actually, I do not want to go into detail about the movie, just look at it. Meanwhile, a version with English subtitles is available on YouTube.
As I said, I was sitting close to our colleagues and their parents, it was very nice to watch their reactions. For example Fárkas, who turned every 30 seconds and had a big grin on his face. Zoli, who sat next to me was also constantly smiling. Or Patricia father, who was sitting to my left. He was very touched to see his daughter on the big screen.
Half an hour went the movie altogether. After that Kati and Janneke were interviewed again. Janneke was close to tears. I felt the same way. For one thing, because I just can not see how someone is crying but also overwhelmed by the feeling of being a part of this.
After the interviews, all colleagues were called by name and asked down. Namely, a big picture was made with all those involved.
At the end of the evening there was a buffet where I ate a lot. Shortly after 8 p.m. we went back to the bus back to Tótvázsony. Of course, how could it be different in Hungary, the Pálinka could not be missing here either. For once I also took two shots with me. Otherwise, I rarely do that. Really. Believe me!
At around 10:15 p.m. we finally arrived back home in Tótvázsony after a really nice event.
At the end of this article, I would like to get rid of a few personal words.
To observe the pride in the eyes of the colleagues and their parents. If one imagines that people with disabilities usually in Hungary and probably in large parts of Eastern Europe get no chance to participate in society. And now they are on a movie screen. A huge merit of all. The inhabitant of Tótvázsony, the parents, the colleagues. But especially by Janneke and Kati, who stomped everything out of nowhere.
In the movie it was also briefly to see, how the property, on which Janka Tanya is today, looked at the beginning. The house in a very bad condition, the workshop of asbestos infested, the garden overgrown. And if you look at yourself and make it clear what it ultimately became. A ray of hope, a ray of hope for humanity in Hungary and Eastern Europe. How much courage these two women have had. Leaving everything behind, putting every penny into an idea and creating something wonderful against contradictions and resistance, in an Eastern European country.
Personally, I have to say. Janneke and Kati are an inspiration and the two biggest badass women I have ever met. I am very proud to work with you and our colleagues. Thanks for the chance. And may your light illuminate not only Hungary, but all of Eastern Europe.
Link to the movie with English subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx3bdny-fVA