PhD Update: Lucy Szemetová

The PhD students in the Department of Film Studies are an active group, and continue to be, even under a global pandemic. Lucy Szemetová, a 1st year PhD student, for instance, has conducted a two-month fellowship at the Blinken Open Society Archives (Budapest, Hungary) where she has also secured a post. And she has hosted a free screening of The Free University (2019).

Assistant Audiovisual Archivist at the Blinken Open Society Archives (Budapest, Hungary):

After completing her two-month fellowship at the Blinken Open Society Archives (Budapest, Hungary) Lucy secured an employment as an Assistant Audiovisual Archivist. As part of her internship she will process and examine the previously unaccessed records of the Private Photo and Film Archive (PFFA). Being able to locate and access the critically-neglected PFFA, Lucy will create a record and repository of materials that can be of use to future researchers, filmmakers, and the wider public while writing on how the (amateur) audio-visual archive is remediated in Hungary. With this project, she aims to process and contextualise neglected collections so it can be made more representative to diverse audiences and provide a richer understanding of the continued role of private audio-visual materials for historiographic research.


Hosting a Screening:  

On Wednesday February 17, 2021, Lucy in collaboration with The Byre Theatre St Andrews held a special online screening of the documentary film The Free University (2019).  The event aimed at the St Andrews and wider UK academic community and members of the public. The screenings was followed by an informal Q&A with the directors, Jonathan Hunter and Lucie Janotová, to reflect on the role of documentary films in the fight for academic freedom.


The Free University follows students of Central European University (CEU) as they struggle against their exile by an increasingly authoritarian government; and documents their stories in a backsliding democracy and the consequences of democratic ‘red lines’ being crossed with impunity. The film documents how students and staff of CEU suddenly woke up as the ‘enemy of the people’ when a coordinated legal and media apparatus began to demonise and eventually criminalise the Hungarian-American institution.


As the issue of decreasing academic freedom did not begin nor end with CEU in Hungary it felt vital to host a discussion with the directors in order to illuminate on the potentials of filmmaking as a potential tool for activism. An hour long online discussion, hosted by Lucy Szemetová, included reflections by the directors on their creative process and an update on the “Free University” movement as well as stimulated a broad range of questions from the audience members.”


From The Free University