1.5 Million Steps over the Borders

EVERY WEDNESDAY on our live channel: tv-free-europe.eu/live

This motto stemps from the very beginnings of our project.
1.5 Million Steps in Hungary (Másfélmillió lépés Magyarországon) was a popular hiking TV documentary series starting in 1979, screened in the 1980s in Hungary.
Many children of the 80s, like us watched it on TV… or at least remembers its
intro jingle by the Ensemble Muzsikás.

What was so special about the series 1.5 Million Steps?
While walking along the Blue hiking trail across Hungary, the film crew offered a non-biased approach of reporting: about the nature, about the life in the countryside Hungary, the clash of rural traditions and the modernity project of socialism, and of course, the backlashes of the so-called “realsocialism”. The film material was shot by the point of view of tourists, wanderers, and… from today’s perspective: potential migrants.
When in 2011 Zsolt Bayer, an extrem-right journalist came up with an own televised remake, he got totally rid of the hiking-boot-pace of filming. His new show is full of pomp and circumstance, official representations of landscapes, towns and heritage sites. History made from above. Heritage as propaganda.

When thinking about a possible collaboration within our basic project network, 1.5 million steps was our first thought figure that we used to put together a concept.
It had several meanings and potentials for us:

– re-discovering the heritage of 1989 from a bottom-up point of view

– touring along the border zones between Hungary and Austria, where the blue hiking trail starts

– re-discovering border zones as seemingly non-places and yet plenty of border stones, border-crossing houses, abandoned signs of a border

– looking into self-organising communities from the times of the System Changes (1989, alulról szerveződő közösségek) >>> dealing with history from below, from multiple perspectives

– taking a look at today’s “renaissance of fences” in the context of the current “migrant crises”.

When the project has started, the topic gained even more momentum with the Covid-19 pandemic situation, which reinstated closed borders within Europe for the first time since 1989. Are we living the nightmare of ’89?

Responding to the Covid situtation we have set up an experimental TV channel as a platform of exchange within our network. Studio Budapest has curated a weekly programme with theme days.

We dedicated the WEDNESDAY programme to the topic: 1.5 Million Steps over the Borders

Where you will find border related film, audio and performance material, an article by Sarah Günther on the Paneuropean Picnic, many many archive and recent border impressions.