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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Film Documentaries, HU in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, you are invited, to:

This year, at the 3rd Hungarian Documentary Film Festival we will screen 22 documentary films. And there is a new momentum this year… We celebrate in 2012 the „Wallenberg Memorial Year”, as it is the 100th anniversary of the birth of a famous Swedish diplomat who rescued a big number of Hungarian Jews from the deportation to the Nazi death camps in 1944. This important and symbolic person was Raoul Wallenberg. Because of the memorial year we added a number of Holocaust-themed feature films into our program. Eight interesting films will be shown in this context during the festival. The films were mainly selected by a professional jury in Hungary organized by the MADE, the Hungarian Documentary Film Directors` Association. (Those films selected by the MADE Jury will be marked by "MADE-SELECTION" in the program.) And some films are invited. This year the opening night will be held in the same place as last year: at the Ray Stark Family Theatre of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The other screenings will take place at the Los Angeles United Hungarian House.

I do really hope that you will find some time to watch at least some of these challenging movies. We are happy to organize this festival again. I feel that this modest contribution in introducing Hungarian documentary films to the California audience will promote the reputation of our great films. Do not forget the oldstanding Hungarian film traditions. Several important Hollywood film studios had Hungarian founding fathers. It was written on the door of the office of William Fox – born in Hungary – that „It is not enough to be Hungarian, you should be skillful, too”. So, I hope you will find the filmmakers of these films screened at the 3rd festival really skillful. Have a great time and hope to see you at the screenings.

By Balázs Bokor


Consul General of Hungary in Los Angeles

May 24, 2012. 7.00 pm (Thursday)

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building,

USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street,

Los Angeles, CA 90007


About Raoul Wallenberg, Man Amidst Inhumanity / Ember

az Embertelenségben

An official documentary film of the “2012 Raoul

Wallenberg Memorial Year” made by the House of

Terror Museum in Budapest (2012 – 23 min.)

Raoul Wallenberg, a descendant of a Swedish merchant

family, arrived to the Hungarian capital after

the German occupation of Hungary, in July 1944, four

months after the German troops marched in the country,

just at the time when Governor Miklós Horthy –

ceding to significant foreign and church pressure – had

the deportation of the Jews stopped. The temporarily

improving atmosphere was favourable for saving human

lives, into which the Swedish diplomat joined in right away. Already in August,

he issued 4500 protective passports, which he had the Hungarian authorities accept

as “family documents”, thus every issued document could save the lives of several

persons. From the very beginning, he cooperated efficiently with the Red Cross, with

the diplomats of neutral states and with Hungarian rescuers. Though the situation in

Hungary took a dramatic turn after Horthy’s unsuccessful attempt to exit from the

war, with the Arrow Cross Party’s coup, the rescuers – and among them the increasingly

important Raoul Wallenberg – did not give up: they continued to save the lives

of the continuously menaced tens of thousands, often risking their own lives. While

he was saving the lives of people from the Nazis, Wallenberg could not foresee that in

a couple of weeks he would become the victim of another oppressive regime. On 17

January 1945, the Soviet troops carried him off, and he could never return from the

Soviet Union.

Raoul Wallenberg is a symbolic figure of rescuers in Hungary and in Europe at

the time. “Man amidst inhumanity” in the horrors of the Holocaust. Hungary highly

values and treasures the memory of the martyr Swedish diplomat. On the occasion

of the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Government of Hungary has decided to

declare the year 2012 as Wallenberg Year and to found a Commemorative Committee.

Our purpose was to bow before his human greatness, and also to commemorate

all those who saved lives jointly with him or similarly to him, amidst the inhumanity

of oppressive regimes. This anniversary is a good occasion to draw lessons from the

past, and to review, in their light, current human rights and minority issues, and to

address the future and the young generations.

May 24, 2012. 7.30 pm (Thursday)

Rose’s Songs / Rózsa énekei

Written and Directed by Andor Szilágyi (2003 – 98 min.)

Autumn 1944. Yellow star, ghettos, Arrow Cross terror. The inhabitants of Hungary’s

capital, Budapest, await the tragic fulfilment of their fate with helpless resignation.

However, above one of the city’s villas, once a week in the evening the stars of hope

sparkle, if only for a few minutes. This short time gives fresh heart to those hiding

here and kindles hope in their tortured souls to live for another day. This mysterious

power is none other than a beautiful song that can be heard at such times from the

villa’s tower room. Géza Halász, the villa’s always jovial caretaker, believes no Jew has

reason to fear while the owner of the voice, Imre Rose, the world-famous opera singer

and a Jew himself, remains in Budapest and does not flee from the country in spite of

his American, British, Swiss, Swedish and Vatican connections. Halász visits the singer

every Friday to dine with him. After a while the marvellous, hope-inspiring concert

starts, which is listened to by the hiding inhabitants of the house with enraptured faces

through the villa’s open dumb waiter.

Already in the “palmy years of peacetime” Rose had competed with Csortos, the

famous actor, for the title of “Budapest’s Greatest Misanthrope”. Thus it does not surprise

anybody that the eccentric singer never, not even once, tries to make contact

with his fellow Jews who took refuge in his house. And when Halász recounts that

the singer swore within an hour of the Arrow Cross’s seizing power that he would not

utter a single word nor cross the threshold of his tower room until “Andrássy Avenue

has been purged of this Arrow Cross scum”, even the slightest

suspicion about Rose’s “invisibility” vanishes. Only a

fourteen-year-old boy, Tommy, the caretaker’s son, listens

to the weekly song with curiosity combined with suspicion,

and tries to find out about the secret of the tower room. As

a result of the adolescent’s persistent and undaunted inquiries,

the opera singer’s mystery is unveiled. Meanwhile,

however, almost unnoticed, the events of the calamitous

days, filled with excitement and cheerfulness, turn the boy

into a truly adult man. Based on true events.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building,

USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street,

Los Angeles, CA 90007

May 25, 2012. 7.00 pm (Friday)

United Hungarian House 1975 West Washington Blvd,

Los Angeles, CA 90018

Tel: (323) 734-1453

About a Village

Director: John C. Swanson (2011 – 68 min.)

Where is one’s true home? For Elsa Koch and her circle of friends this question is

more complicated than for most of us. Born in a German-speaking village in southern

Hungary, they were forced to leave after the second World War, still children. Although

they eventually succeeded in building their lives in post-war Germany, the transition

was not easy. Having been expelled from Hungary as Germans – a measure sanctioned

by the Allies in 1945 – they were regarded as outsiders in Germany as well,

often referred to as “Hungarian Gypsies”. They had to suddenly become adults when

they did not yet feel ready for it. No wonder that the small Hungarian village keeps occupying

a special place in their hearts. They yearn for the uncomplicated world of their

childhoods, where their lives were mapped out by the village streets and nothing could

penetrate their sphere of joy and playfulness, not even the cruelties of war and politics.

Is that world gone forever or have they managed to hold onto it throughout the past six

decades? Is it in fact a physical place or more of an inner landscape? The viewer is free

to reply to these questions or leave them unanswered. The characters in the film tell the

story and express their occasionally conflicting views in their own words, leaving room

for interpretation. This is a film about people who were affected by historical events

and not a film about “history”.

May 27, 2012. 3.00 pm (Sunday)

United Hungarian House 1975 West Washington Blvd,

Los Angeles, CA 90018

Tel: (323) 734-1453

3.00 pm

Righteous among the Nations / Igazak
Director: András Sipos(1993 -64 min.)

This film is about a collection of “righteous

gentiles” who helped rescue Jews in

the Holocaust. It is also a call for us to

pay tribute to those who showed courage

and humanity in one of the cruellest periods

in human history.

4.15 pm

To speak the unspeakable – Elie Wiesel’s message / Mondani a mondhatatlant
Director: Judit Elek (1996 - 110 min.)

This film looks at the life of Elie Wiesel, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who

was born in Máramarossziget in Transylvania and who now lives in New York

where he teaches in English but dreams in French and Yiddish.

Wiesel travels all the way from the Carpathian

Mountains via Auschwitz and Birkenau to Buchenwald,

which is the tortuous journey he was

forced to make half a century before. He was a boy

of 15 then and it is through the eyes of this boy,

now and old man, that the horrors of this dark

time are made real once more.

6.15 pm

Have They Told You? / Elmondták-e?
Director: Miklós Jancsó (1996 - 48 min.)

Have they told you? – this is the question

asked by the director-narrator

at the beginning of the film who then

goes on to retell the tragic tale of the

Holocaust in Hungary. It starts early

in the last century and the First World

War before looking at the Horthy era

and the horrific political atmosphere

that created the Jewish laws that led

directly to the Holocaust. The director

gives us his own subjective view of the

Holocaust as seen through his eyes.

7.15 pm

Living History – Miksa Domonkos / Élő történelem –

Domonkos Miksa
Director: Gergely Fonyó (2009 -50


This film uses original archive material

to look at the lives of Miksa Domonkos

and his son István. The historian Miklós

Szita claims that Ocskay and Domonkos

risked their lives to shelter Wallenberg

and later worked together to save Jews

from deportation and certain death.

8.15 pm

The Cattle-Car / Vagon
Director: János Zelki (2007 - 98 min.)

This films looks at the brutal deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews by rail

to their destruction in camps across Europe. Despite a great deal of research into the

gruesome facts surrounding the Holocaust, relatively little documentary evidence remains

on how long these tortuous journeys lasted or the exact numbers of people who

were horded into cattle-cars with neither food nor water.

The survivors are the ones who know exactly what happened to and among these people

who were forced to suffer intolerable conditions while being transported like cattle

across the continent.

United Hungarian House 1975 West Washington Blvd,

Los Angeles, CA 90018

Tel: (323) 734-1453

May 28, 2012. 3.00 pm (Monday)

3.00 pm

The Package Tour / Társasutazás
Director: Gyula Gazdag (1985 - 75 min.)

A group of middle-aged and elderly people sign up for a

group trip on four coaches to visit a former death camp. Most of those travelling have

of course made this journey once before and a million more times in their minds, but

as they near Auschwitz-Birkenau, they start to talk. They speak with calm dispassion

about events that took place all those years before: the Hatvcan ghetto, the cattle-cars,

the barracks, having their heads shaved, Mengele, the gas chambers and the smoking

crematorium chimneys. They share their memories of a journey they made with each

other and with the audience.


Four Days of Remembering / Négy nap emlékezés
Director: János Gulyás (2012 - 53


A month after the red mud disaster in

Hungary, a bunch of students from nearby

Pécs visit the area to paint a mural in

Devecser as a memorial to the tragedy

and to celebrate the solidarity of the local

and national community.


Permanent Injuries / Maradandó sérülések
Director: István Nemes (2012 - 53 min.)

As Hungary’s middle class shrinks, a growing

number of people are finding themselves

on the brink of existential breakdown. The

film follows four middle-aged individuals as

they are forced to confront the increasingly

common problems of divorce, unemployment,

debt and homelessness.


Shanghai’s Hungarian Architect – László Hudec / Sanghaj

magyar építésze
Director: Réka Pigniczky (2011 - 26 min.)

This film tells Hudec’s story in the architect’s own

words as his career takes him from the little village of

Besztercebánya to the modern metropolis of Shanghai.

His talent, astounding life story and worldview span

many of the most significant events of the 20th century.


Director: Gyula Gulyás (1992-1998 - 70 min.)

This film looks at the simple life of an old widow woman who ekes out a meagre existence

in a house and garden that

she has rarely left. Her life is one of

hard work and a great deal of aches

and pains as she battles to keep going

and look after her only surviving

child. The film is constructed from a

series of interviews that took place

over a period of nine years and gives

a unique insight into an approach to

life that is now exceptionally rare in

the modern world.


The Song of Lives / Életek éneke
Director: Csaba Bereczki (2006 -

90 min.)

We are introduced to 20 people, 20 individual

fates and 20 voices. These musicians

really have nothing in common

with each other but music makes them

closer than the closest family, which

they accept as if it were the most natural

thing in the world.

May 29, 2012. 7.00 pm (Tuesday)

United Hungarian House 1975 West Washington Blvd,

Los Angeles, CA 90018

Tel: (323) 734-1453


According to God’s Will – Olga’s film / Ahogyan az Isten

elrendeli – Olga filmje
Director: Sándor Mohi (2001 - 68 min.)

This black and white documentary film presents

the life of a provincial Gypsy community through

the story of one young Gypsy woman who takes us

into the inner world of a large family with all its

emotional ups and downs and a very particular

view of life and death.


In the Tide of Time / Az idő sodrában
Director: László B. Révész (1998-2008 - 55 min.)

We follow the characters in this film essay as they are

tested by the challenges that follow in the wake on the collapse

of the communist regime in Hungary as small companies

struggle to survive after large state concerns move

into private hands. The transition from state monopoly to

private enterprise turns out to be one full of dreams and



Our Stork / A mi gólyánk
Director: Lívia Gyarmathy (1998 - 28 min.)

This film tells the story of a stork that stayed behind

after its companions flew south for the winter. The setting

is a little Hungarian village and the characters are

its residents as the stork begins to take centre stage in

village life. We follow the stork throughout the year as it tries to adapt to winter life

and the habits of the local inhabitants. But then spring reappears at last along with its

feathered friends and it’s time to be a stork once more. It’s time to find a mate, fall in

love and rear its young like a good stork should.

United Hungarian House 1975 West Washington Blvd,

Los Angeles, CA 90018

Tel: (323) 734-1453

May 31, 2012. 7.00 pm (Thursday)


Golden Hut – A Year in the Ghimes Hills with Emilke

Karácsony / Aranykalyiba
Director: Dezső Zsigmond (2003 - 55 min.)

Emilke is very much like the character of Ábel from

Áron Tamás’ novels and he lives in hut in the Ghimes

Hills. He grazes the cattle from spring to the first

snows of winter and he makes cheese but only sees his

parents when one of them visits his hut to take some

back down to the village. These meetings are rare and

short and so he is forced to spend the best part of his time with the cows and his dogs

because his nearest neighbours are at least two hills away. All alone, the seasons seem

to melt one into the next where seconds, minutes and days begin to lose all meaning.


The Ormánság Belongs to No One… / Az Ormánság senkié

Director: András Kisfaludy (2008 - 83 min.)

“Hungarians should move to Baranya County not Canada!”

wrote Lajos Fülep in 1930 when he saw the region

begin to slide into ruin and its population decline. And

things haven’t improved a great deal since, with each era

in history making things slowly worse until it has become

Hungary’s forgotten province: the Ormánság.


Nasty Disease / Csúnya betegség
Director: Péter Szalay (2002 - 26 min.)

It’s a harmless passion but hard to understand how the railway

can come before an interest in women. But perhaps the

enchanting thing about it is that it’s beautiful without any

ulterior motive or unpleasant emotion. The eldest of the three

describes how he spent seven years in prison for distributing

leaflets in 1956. The prison was close to the track and

he could hear the locomotives whistle as they trundled past.

And that became his greatest passion – not the suffering, not the solitude, not the hunger

but the sound of trains.

June 1, 2012. 7.00 pm (Friday)

United Hungarian House 1975 West Washington Blvd,

Los Angeles, CA 90018

Tel: (323) 734-1453


Hard Lines / Sorsod Borsod
Director: István Nagy (2009 - 57 min.)

Peti and Robi come from two completely different worlds

and would be unlikely to meet in the outside world but

they find themselves visiting the same juvenile probation

officer. Through the example of their lives, this film looks

at the effectiveness of a criminal correction model adapted

from the West and implemented in a region as socially

divided as Borsod County.


The School of the Empire/ A Birodalom iskolája
Director: Gábor Zsigmond Papp (2003 - 57 min.)

The German Empire School was established in Budapest in 1908 to educate the children of

German, Austrian and Czech diplomats working in Hungary. It later admitted Hungarian

children after the First World War and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And that

is when children from the Jewish middle classes began to study at the school.

Tuition at the school was conducted in German and standards were extremely high. Many

of the teachers brought the spirit of the Weimar Republic with them when they fled Hitler’s

Germany in the 1930s to come and teach in Budapest. And so the school acted as an outpost of

anti-Nazi sentiment far away from the fatherland.

The Jewish laws were then introduced in Hungary and

children of the Jewish faith were forced to leave the school

but those who converted to Christianity were allowed to

stay. Then the young German teachers and older German

boys were called up to do national service in 1943. 1944

saw the Arrow-Cross rise to power and Jewish students

were forced to hide in the school’s cellars.


Admitted Past / Bevallott múlt
Director: Richard M. Nagy (2012 - 52 min.)

60 Andrássy Avenue. There are few places in Hungary that have become

such a stark symbol of oppression and terror as this building

in the heart of Budapest, which acted as headquarters for the merciless

arm of two ruthless dictatorships. The building was turned

into a monument, museum and archive in February 2002. This

film is about the museum’s history from its original inception to the

present day and takes a look back over the first ten years of “The

House of Terror”.

June 3, 2012. 3.00 pm (Sunday)

United Hungarian House 1975 West Washington Blvd,

Los Angeles, CA 90018

Tel: (323) 734-1453


Rocking the Nation / Dübörög a nemzeti rock
Director: Bori Kriza (2007 - 70 min.)

A concert tour with the “national rock” band

called “Romantic Aggression” from December 2005

through to autumn 2006. Folk musicians and skinheads,

football fans and students all talk about their

radical nationalistic views. Their concerts are more

than parties for their fans; they are a way of life and

a community where the crowds sing along to revisionist

anthems and football songs. The air is filled

with chants of freedom, anticommunism, Jews, the

Trianon, mighty Hungary and armed struggle....


Behind the curtain / Kulisszatitkok

Producer-director: Eszter Nordin (2011 –

52 min.)

What happened “behind the curtain”, in the world of

theatre, in post-war communist Hungary? Why did

so many artists commit suicide, leave their profession

even their homeland? One of the victims of this era was

the father of the film’s director, the renowned Hungarian

theatre director, Géza Pártos. Seven years after his

death, his daughter is attempting to get to the truth: the

real reason for her parents’ brave decision to defect to

England, leaving their whole life behind.


Legacy / Hagyaték

Director: Attila Vándor – DUNA TV (2012 – 26,05


“Legacy” is a programme which endeavours to rescue Hungarian

intellectual cultural heritage. It sweeps down the dirt of modern

times imposed on pieces of the Hungarian past’s intellectual legacy

in order to make them shine again in their original brilliance.

These mosaic pieces – buildings, objects, books, memories, stories,

landscapes, thoughts and above all the spirits creating and shaping them – are brought on the

screen week by week, to finally reassemble in the viewers’ souls to a never forfeiting Hungarian

universal spiritual history and to a renewed Hungarian tradition.


Homerunner / Hazajáró

Director: Zoltán Moys – DUNA TV (2011 – 25,48 min.)

„Homerunner” gets on its boots every week to range through the magnificent landscapes of

the Carpathian Basin to get acquainted with the natural and cultural values, the historical

relicts and the everyday life of the inhabitants of our homeland. The road leads through Transsylvania,

Upper-Hungary (Slovakia), Carpathian Ukraine, Vojvodina, Moravia, Burgenland

and inner Hungary, once by foot or by wagon, then by

bike or by canoe. From the majestic ridges of the Carpathian

Mountains and the castle ruins through little

wooden churches and bloody battlefields to towns – the

neverending road of the „Homerunner” is accompanied

by plenty of Hungarian memories.



Director: László Balassa (2009 – 42 min.)

In Hungary today the proportion of people among the blind

with degrees is approximately 5% and the same ratio is 1%

among Roma. Zsolt Bodnár, a young Roma man with impaired

vision, practically attempted the impossible when he

was admitted to study at the University of Law in Győr. The portrait film shows his exceptional

personality and the thinking of people around him who like to find solutions for situations

which seem impossible. “If you fall to the ground – although it can be comfortable to remain –

you must get up and carry on!”


Silent Land / Csendország
Director: Róbert Árpád Lakatos (2002 – 30 min.)

Alfréd is ten years old and he’s deaf and dumb. He attends the

Deaf Institute in Kolozsvár and goes home to the Ghimes Hills

in the holidays. He’s given a camera and he starts to learn the

language of pictures in the land of silence.


Csintó – the Chieftain’s Birthday / Csintó
Director: Ágota Varga 1998 – 45 min

Ágota Varga takes us into a gathering of family and friends who

have come together to celebrate the birthday of a local Gypsy chieftain.

Completely inhibited by the presence of a film crew, everyone

goes about business as usual and the business in question appears

to be organised crime...







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