A film series will be held to complement the Hungarian program of the Smtihsonian Folklife Festival at the National Gallery of Art entitled ”Hungary, Hero and Myth: Immigrant Experience and the Artist’s Eye”

The Film Series is dedicated to Hungarian Cinema. The selected movies attempt to showcase the struggle for identity and freedom. Some of the movies explore these themes through the immigrant experiences of Hungarian Americans arriving in this country. The newly arrived communities and individuals must redefine who they are and create new relationship with their surroundings. These movies talk about their efforts to fit in, find success as individuals and create a home and a sense of belonging all while adapting to the realities of what was for many a promised-land (Hunky Blues – The American Dream by Péter Forgács; American Postcard by Gábor Bódy, as well as No Subtitles Necessary – Laszlo and Vilmos by James Chressanthis).

Another group of movies explore similar themes raising questions about individual heroism and the effects of individual choices on relationship with the community through the depiction of landmark events of Hungarian history such as the 1956 revolution (Children of Glory by Krisztina Goda), or a 13th century medieval civil war (Bánk bán by Csaba Káel). Renowned movie-makers and cinematographers Péter Forgács (Hunky Blues), and Academy-Award winner Hungarian-American movie icon, Vilmos Zsigmond are also going to join us to talk about their work.

Special thanks to Ms. Margaret Parsons (Head of Film Department – National Gallery, Ms. Katalin Vajda (International Divison of the Hungarian National Film Fund), Mr. Béla Bunyik (Director – Bunyik Entertainment, Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles), Mr. Vilmos Zsigmond (Cinematographer – The Maiden Danced to Death; No Subtitles Necessary; Bánk Bán)and Mr. Péter Forgács (Director – Hunky Blues – The American Dream) for all their help in making this program happen. 

All screenings are open to the public free of charge.

Venue: National Gallery of Art East Building 4th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20565

June 29, 2:30 pm Hunky Blues – The American Dream (Director: Péter Forgács)

There will be a discussion with Director Péter Forgács after the screening.

The movie considers the passage to America of thousands of Hungarians who arrived between 1890 and 1921. Rather than conventional documentary, media artist Péter Forgács weaves a vast visual epic, combining clips from found footage, American cinema, and interviews revealing hard moments of arrival and assimilation. (Director: Péter Forgács, 2009, HDCam, Hungarian with English subtitles, 99 minutes)

July 5, 1:00 pm American Postcard (Director: Gábor Bódy)

One of the first feature films of the Balázs Béla Stúdió, the plot is based on a short story of Ambrose Bierce, Gábor Bódy's acclaimed first feature portrayed two Hungarian emigrants in the Union Army in the last days of the American Civil War. After the defeat of the Hungarian army in 1849 (Revolution of 1848-1849), many professional soldiers of that army left Europe as part of the "Kossuth emigration" and fought in the American Civil War. The end of that war coincided with an amnesty back home towards fighters who had fought in the Hungarian Revolution. This circumstance provides a framing of the film's central proposition, that of ambivalence towards the American project. Some Hungarians abandoned the offer of American citizenship and returned home to Hungary, others stayed on.“The main characters represent opposite attitudes: on the one hand, that of the rationalist, the "technocrat" wanting to serve the cause with his skill and knowledge; on the other, the romantic revolutionary for whom the end of the war brings the end of his raison d'être. Attached inseparably to the gun, feeling himself rootless, he challenges his fate in a spectacular suicidal gesture. This is a bitter philosophical story related in an unusual experimental form, where the images try to recreate the daguerreotypes of the last century, but as if they were taken virtually on the spot, candidly.” http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/film/FN12538
Written and directed by Gábor Bódy, based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce. Photographed by István Lugossy, (104 mins [corr: 94 mins], In Hungarian with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm)

July 5, 3:00 pm The Maiden Danced To Death (Director: Endre Hules)

“Steve, a dancer-turned-dance-impresario returns to his native Hungary after a 20-year absence. The Communist regime that expelled him is gone, his former apparatchik father had retired in disgrace, but his younger brother, Gyula still works in the same run-down studio with the same cash-strapped dance company they both started out in - and he is married to Steve's former sweetheart, Mari. The two brothers decide to revive their last project together, a dance piece based on the old ballad, The Maiden Danced to Death. If Gyula makes it to Steve's exacting standards, Steve can take it on a world tour, reviving the sagging careers of both. But the ghosts of the past begin to haunt them when Steve decides to even some old scores. As The Maiden Danced to Death rumbles towards the inevitable showdown, dramatic scenes seamlessly slip into dance or music. Hungarian-American writer-director, Endre Hules helmed, with Academy Award winner Vilmos Zsigmond and Zoltán Honti as cinematographers. Ferenc Kiss' haunting original music and the dazzling choreography of Zoltán Zsuráfszky with The Honvéd Dance Theater, are rooted in an ancient and beautiful tradition.” http://www.endrehules.com/maiden.html

(100 mins; in Hungarian with English subtitles)

July 6, 2:00 pm No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo and Vilmos (Director: James Chressanthis)

There will be a discussion with Vilmos Zsigmond after the screening.

The icons of the American New Wave in the late 1960s and early 1970s moviemaking are generally held to be directors—your Robert Altmans and your Peter Bogdanoviches. But when you summon the gritty feel of that cinematic era, chances are the images that leap to mind are the handiwork of either Laszlo Kovacs or Vilmos Zsigmond. NO SUBTITLES NECESSARY: Laszlo & Vilmos is an ode to those two great Hungarian cinematographers and to their remarkable friendship, which survived wars, spanned continents and endured the capriciousness of Hollywood during the Me Decade and beyond. Kovacs and Zsigmond met in film school in Budapest and became fast friends. When the Soviets invaded in 1956, the two young men grabbed an Arriflex camera and, all the 35 mm film they could carry, and surreptitiously filmed the brutal crackdown and desperate efforts by civilians to escape. Ultimately, they shot thousands of feet of film and smuggled it out of the country, barely dodging suspicious Russian soldiers. Between them, they would shoot some of the most notable films in American cinematic history: The Deer Hunter; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Deliverance; Paper Moon; Five Easy Pieces; What’s Up, Doc; New York, New York; Heaven’s Gate; Frances; and dozens more. Through it all, Kovacs and Zsigmond maintained a close friendship that, to those with whom they worked, appeared more like a sibling relationship—albeit minus the rivalry. “They have the same blood in them,” said Kovacs’ wife Audrey. NO SUBTITLES NECESSARY: Laszlo & Vilmos introduces those outside of the film community to the two Hungarians who made the 60s and 70s look like they do in our collective memories. Through interviews with the two men’s colleagues and clips from their wildly eclectic filmographies, filmmaker and fellow cinematographer James Chressanthis constructs an homage to his heroes and forerunners. The film features appearances and insights by Karen Black, Peter Bogdanovich, Sandra Bullock, Richard Donner, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Tatum O’Neal, Jon Voight, John Williams and Sharon Stone and a host of other colleagues. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/no-subtitles-necessary/film.html (Director: James Chressanthis, in English, 86 mins)

July 6, 4:00 pm Bánk Bán (Director: Csaba Káel)

“1213. The Meranian countrymen of Queen Gertrud are absorbed in revelry in the royal castle, observed from the background by disaffected Hungarian nobles, who under the leadership of a ban (a warden of the southern marches of Hungary), Ban Petur, are planning a conspiracy. Ban Bánk, the vice-regent of the king, who is away traversing the country fighting distant battles, has in the meantime left his beautiful wife Melinda at the court. The anger of the nobles is further intensified when they are witness to the ever more open harassment Melinda must suffer at the hands of Ottó, the fettish younger brother of the queen. Petur, the leader of the conspirators, secretly recalls Bánk, who reacts indignantly to this and accuses the disaffected nobles of high treason. Ottó’s confident, the ”sly and untrustworthy” Biberach, who is a knight, reveals to Bánk that the prince is attempting to entice Melinda. Spurred on by the queen Ottó prepares for battle. He pursues Bánk’s lady-wife around the cloisters and chapels of the castle, and though spurning his offers of love with derision, Melinda nevertheless finds herself placed in an ambiguous situation. Bánk, who just at this moment is spying on the two, is outraged by what he sees: it seems that his loving spouse could have been unfaithful after all… The film roles are filled by the greatest European and world famous Hungarian opera stars of our time.” http://www.hufestival.com/page/7/?attachment_id=puiemixfdriusjx
The film is the result of the joint efforts of Csaba Káel –Director of the film and director and the Academy Award Winner cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. ” (Director: Csaba Káel; Director of Photography: Vilmos Zsigmond; 2002, feature, in Hungarian with English subtitles, , colour, 116 min.)

July 7, 4:00 pm Children of Glory (Director: Krisztina Goda)

Children of Glory“commemorates Hungary's Revolution of 1956 and the “Blood in the Water” water polo match between Hungary and the USSR at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Taking place in Budapest and at the Melbourne Olympic Games in October and November of that year, the film takes viewers into the passion and sadness of one of the most dramatic popular revolts of the twentieth century. During the same year that Soviet tanks were violently suppressing the Revolution within Hungary, the Hungarian water polo team was winning over the Soviets in the Olympic pool in Melbourne, in what is sometimes described as the bloodiest water polo match in history. While telling the story of 1956 in part through fictional lead characters, the film-makers simultaneously recreated many of the key public events of the Revolution, including the huge demonstrations and the fighting in the streets of Budapest.” http://www.csuchico.edu/hfa/hc/filmseries.html (Directed byKrisztina Goda, in English, 123 mins)