Ciro Colonna

Hungary 2021, why a podcast?

Saturday January 15th, 2022

Case popolari abitate dalle famiglie Rom nell’VIII distretto di Budapest (foto Gianmaria de Luca)

Audio-documentarian Ciro Colonna talks about the reasons that led him to follow L'Atlante's survey in Hungary It may seem redundant, but I would like to start from this very question: where does the need to narrate through sounds come from? What can an audio recording communicate that cannot be said better and in a more accessible and incisive way through a video? A first answer, cynical, superficial and, from my point of view, uninteresting, could be that we cannot do without the podcast, that this medium imposed itself in the market, that there is no way to avoid the trend of the moment. So, let's ask ourselves why it has imposed itself. Once again, there are many possible answers, starting from the fact that it can be listened to in the hectic times that contemporary life imposes on the citizen-worker-consumer: a podcast can be listened to during the endless journeys in our crowded cities, while cooking for the whole week, while falling asleep exhausted before a new working day. Is that all? I don't think so: the radio, which was already considered extinct at the time of the cinema and definitively branded as an obsolete communication tool when television entered our homes, resists itself, innovates, mutates and is reborn from its own ashes. It appropriates the new flow of information brought about by the web, moulds itself on the new technologies and re-proposes itself as a daily presence in our lives. What makes this medium of communication so capable of withstanding epochal upheavals? My answer to this question, which is subjective and does not pretend to be generalised, is that radio, storytelling by sound, podcasts in their most current redefinition, have something extra that other tools cannot offer. Just as in gastronomy, not overdoing it with the ingredients can often offer a more complex and satisfying taste panorama, engaging only one sense can guarantee the possibility to better savour - differently - the content. Just to be clear: this is not a matter of establishing a classification of merit, of competing with distant and incomparable techniques and codes of language, of affirming the superiority of sound over video. I take up the famous quote by Orson Wells who, when asked about the difference between cinema and radio, replied that there are no differences except that radio has an infinitely wider screen. The immense director was referring to the opportunity to see with the eyes of the mind and heart that listening to the radio offers. This perspective provides us with a key to understanding why even today, in the media bombardment to which we are subjected, the radio, the podcast, is an evergreen in our lives: the margin of freedom that it leaves to our interpretation of things, the space of imagination that opens up in front of the listener. It was in this spirit that in early August 2021 I picked up the microphones and took part in the Magyar expedition organised by L'Atlante. Through meticulous and fascinating fieldwork, we collected an infinite number of voices and sounds, which today make up a complex and nuanced story. We invite you to let yourself be carried away and accompany us through the streets of Budapest, through the boundless rural landscapes, on the shores of Lake Balaton and in the border areas where migrants try to get around the wall erected by the Hungarian government. The questions are familiar: is Hungary living under a dictatorship? Where do Hungarian citizens stand in relation to the EU? What distresses and worries them? How does the tightening of civil rights, which we frequently hear about in the Western media, affect their daily lives? The answers are articulated, composite, plural. What we are proposing is a photograph of Hungary made up of chiaroscuro, to which each voice adds an extra feature and contributes to telling the story of a reality that cannot be pigeonholed into familiar categories. The journey begins, enjoy the listening!