MACHINES director Rahul Jain will participate in Q&A’s at the Royal after the 11 AM screenings this Saturday and Sunday, November 25 and 26.
‘1945’ Examines Postwar Angst in Hungary
BY TOM TUGEND | PUBLISHED NOV 17, 2017
An ancient train, belching black smoke, pulls into a station near an unnamed Hungarian village and out step two Orthodox Jews. Not losing a moment, the stationmaster sounds the alarm: “The Yids are coming!”
The year — and the title of the movie — is “1945,” a time when the inhabitants of the village and the rest of their countrymen have arrived at a junction in history and are unsure which path to follow.
While Hungary’s Holocaust-themed movie “Son of Saul” won the Academy Award for foreign-language film two years ago, exhibiting the full horror of the Shoah and its concentration camps, the postwar “1945” probes the potential for greed and selfishness in every human being.
“We are the third postwar generation,” director Ferenc Torok said in a phone interview from Budapest. “And a lot of people are asking what their parents and grandparents did during the world war.”
The film takes place in the middle of summer as the villagers till their fields, smoke and drink endlessly, and prepare for the wedding of the son of a domineering town clerk to a pretty peasant girl. Nazi Germany had surrendered two months earlier, in May, and while some Soviet troops have arrived, the Communist puppet government has not yet assumed power.
The two arriving Jews — the older clad in a black coat and hat and his adult son wearing a workman’s cap and clothing — unload two large trunks and hire a horse-drawn cart and its driver to carry their load for the hour-long trip to the village, while father and son follow behind on foot.
As the odd procession wends its way through the countryside, the stationmaster’s warning stokes the villagers’ fears that the survivors among their former Jewish neighbors now will demand the return of the houses, businesses and furniture they left behind when they were deported to concentration camps. That means the town clerk would no longer own the drug store and his wife could no longer glory in the beautiful rugs, dishes and silver menorah of the previous owner.
In the ensuing panic, some try to hide their ill-gotten gains, while others put their hopes in papers, signed by the pro-Nazi wartime government, “officially” transferring the abandoned homes and goods to the gentile neighbors.
When horse, cart and the “Yids” arrive at the village, women peek through shutters, the pharmacist tries to hide his tubes and bottles. Rumors spread that the trunks contain perfumes and beauty aids to sell to the village women.
Finally, the cart and two men arrive at the gates of the abandoned Jewish cemetery. The younger Jew, with a concentration camp number tattooed on his forearm, takes a key out of his pocket and opens the rusty gate, as a posse of hostile villagers gathers nearby. Inside the cemetery, father and son open the trunks and bury the unexpected contents. In the final scene, the two strangers re-board the train, their mission accomplished.
The result is a masterfully directed, acted and photographed movie, which again disproves predictions that the time of the Holocaust-themed movie has expired, even as the last eyewitnesses are dying.
Torok, who is not Jewish, said that part of the continued interest in a place like Hungary, whose Jewish population was decimated during the war, has to do with the fact that for many years while the nation was a Communist satellite, the subject of the Holocaust — and particularly the participation of many Hungarians in it — was taboo. The same applied to the collaboration of many Hungarians with Hitler’s regime, as German and Hungarian troops fought together in the invasions of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.
The film started as a short story by Hungarian Jewish writer Gabor T. Szanto, titled “Homecoming,” which won the Yad Vashem Avner Shalev Prize for best artistic representation of a Holocaust-related topic. Torok, relying on Szanto’s intimate knowledge of Jewish life and rituals, asked him also to write the screenplay.
In a separate phone interview, Szanto, editor of the Hungarian-Jewish magazine “Szombat” (Sabbath), made a number of observations on Hungarian Jewry, past but mostly present.
“The Holocaust is still the cornerstone of our thinking, not only for Hungary’s 80,000 Jews (compared with 450,000 before World War II) but to every other Nazi-occupied nation,” he said. “This film is really Europe’s story.”
In general, Hungarian Jews, like their American counterparts, tend to be liberals and left-leaning and they are concerned by their country’s political shift to the right, Szanto said. Among the worrisome signs is the growing strength of the nationalistic Jobbik party.
Another sign is the recent public poster campaign by the Hungarian government, depicting George Soros, a Hungarian-American and Jewish billionaire and philanthropist, as the mastermind of a massive of influx of illegal immigrants from the Middle East into Hungary.
“As a writer, I am a bit of an outsider and try to look at Hungary and its Jewish community realistically,” Szanto said. “We have many problems, but I don’t think they can be solved by ideologies. We can believe in ideals, but our solutions must be realistic. You can’t change human nature.”
“1945” begins screening on Nov. 25 at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles, Playhouse 7 in Pasadena and Town Center in Encino, as well as Westpark 8 in Irvine. On Dec. 8, the film will open at the Laemmle’s Claremont 5 in Claremont.
© Copyright 2017 Tribe Media Corp
THE MOVIE OF MY LIFE director-actor Selton Mello will participate in Q&A’s at the Music Hall following the 7:20 PM screenings on Friday and Saturday, November 24 and 25, and Monday, November 27.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present a screening of the influential and imaginative 1967 thriller, John Boorman’s POINT BLANK. Co-star Angie Dickinson will participate in a Q&A after the screen film.
POINT BLANK screens at 7:30pm on Tuesday, December 5th at the Ahrya Fine Arts theater in Beverly Hills. Presented digitally. Click here to purchase tickets.
Later critics described POINT BLANK as a blend of the style of classic film noir and the technical innovations of the French New Wave. Oscar winner Lee Marvin stars as a man seeking revenge against a former business partner, who double crossed him, stole his wife and left him for dead during a robbery at the deserted prison of Alcatraz.
Marvin’s Walker (no first name) tracks them both to Los Angeles, which has been brilliantly photographed by Boorman and cinematographer Philip H. Lathrop. The screenplay was written by Alexander Jacobs, David and Rafe Newhouse, from a novel by Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake).
Jacobs and Boorman were both British filmmakers who were stimulated by Los Angeles in the 1960s, and they made the most of archetypal settings like a hilltop house, a sprawling car lot, a frenetic disco, and the eerie storm drains along the Los Angeles River. The film crew was also the first ever to be allowed to film at Alcatraz, which had closed in 1963.
Although the film scored at the box office, it was critically underrated at the time. As Leonard Maltin wrote years later, Point Blank is a “taut thriller, ignored in 1967, but now regarded as a top film of the decade.”
Indeed it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 2016 and had a strong influence on later filmmakers, including Steven Soderbergh and Michael Mann. Philip French, writing in the London Observer, called it “a landmark in the history of the crime movie.”
Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, Carroll O’Connor, and Keenan Wynn co-star. The haunting music was composed by Johnny Mandel.
Angie Dickinson was our very first guest when we launched our Anniversary Classics series four years ago. She appeared at a screening of her 1963 hit, Captain Newman, M.D., in which she starred with Gregory Peck and Tony Curtis.
Her many other memorable films include Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo; the original Ocean’s Eleven with the Rat Pack; Don Siegel’s The Killers, in which she also co-starred with Marvin, along with John Cassavetes and future President Ronald Reagan in his last feature film; Arthur Penn’s The Chase, in which she played opposite Marlon Brando; and Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill.
Dickinson also starred in the immensely popular TV series, Police Woman, during the 1970s, and was one of Johnny Carson’s favorite guests on his nightly talk show.
Click here for tickets.
You heard right … it’s our 10th year of FIDDLER! Join us as we celebrate a decade of song, shtick, and shenanigans by once again coming together as a community for Laemmle’s legendary Christmas Eve experience.
For 2017, this ever-popular event will be occurring at six of our neighborhood venues including the magnificent single screen, art deco AHRYA FINE ARTS in Beverly Hills (see below for full listing and ticket links).
In addition to movie and song, the evening will feature TRIVIA with PRIZES being awarded to Fiddler buffs with the quickest recall. Dressing in COSTUME is not required, but highly encouraged! Who knows, perhaps the best costume will garner a prize? Or perhaps this is the year you’ll be given an opportunity to do your best Tevye or Golde impression? That will be up to the emcee. Indeed, each location will feature its own host, among them some of our favorites from year’s past including CANTOR PHIL BARON and klezmer band leader GUSTAVO BULGACH.
As Greg Laemmle is fond of saying “Christmas Eve isn’t just Chinese food!” He elaborates, “This is your once-a-year chance to be the star of the shtetl. Join with friends and neighbors and sing your heart out alongside Fiddler’s screen legends. And it’s okay if you haven’t memorized all the songs. We provide the lyrics.”
Song highlights include the iconic “TRADITION”, “IF I WERE A RICH MAN”, “TO LIFE”, “SUNRISE SUNSET”, “DO YOU LOVE ME?” and “ANATEVKA”, among many, many more.
Don’t be late! Those who wish to attend the program are advised to purchase tickets in advance as the program has traditionally sold to capacity. We welcome all those in the community who are looking for an alternative Christmas Eve.
See you in the shtetl…
DATE: Sunday, December 24th
General Admission – $18
Seniors/Children – $15
Premiere Card Adult – $12
Premier Card Seniors – $10
Based on the acclaimed story “Homecoming” by Gábor T. Szántó, 1945 is a haunting film about the deep undercurrents beneath the surface of a quaint village that’s ultimately forced to face up to its “ill-gotten gains” from the Second World War. We open 1945 next week at the Royal, Town Center, and Playhouse and next month at the Claremont 5. Former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League Abe Foxman saw and loved the movie and wrote the following about it:
“The Hungarian Jewish experience during WWII was unique among European countries. Until 1944, Hungarian Jews lived in relative safety despite anti-Jewish laws that existed since 1920 and pogroms in which the military participated (e.g. the 1942 Novi-Sad pogrom where 1000 Jews were murdered).
“But then, in March 1944, when the Germans occupied Hungary, Adolf Eichmann implemented the “final solution” in that country and was surprised by the collaboration and great help received from the Hungarian authorities. Thus, the deportation and murder of Hungarian Jews was swift and unparalleled among any other European country – in a few months more than 600,000 Jews were identified and sent to the murder camps.
“Only now, more than 70 years after, “Yad Vashem” has succeeded to identify the names of 80% of those who perished but the issue of their property and belongings has hardly been addressed.
“For that reason, the new Hungarian film 1945 , currently playing in NYC theaters and soon opening across North America, is quite relevant to today. But not only because of that…
“On one clear day, after the war ended, two Orthodox Jews appear in a small village in Hungary, hiring two locals to carry two trunks labeled “perfumes” for them. All they do is walk slowly, across the village, after the wagon carrying their trunks, but their appearance evokes strong feelings of guilt and remorse that slowly make the village community deteriorate.
“It seems most of the villagers collaborated in extraditing the Jews that lived there up to a year before and gladly took over their property, from kitchenware to their houses.
“Shot in beautiful black and white, director Ferenc Torok (who is not Jewish) interprets Gabor Szanto’s (who is Jewish) short story “Homecoming,” with vast strokes of sensitivity and a final mesmerizing emotional effect.
“1945 is a real masterpiece, heightened by the end of the film when we, the audience and the villagers, understand the real mission of these two Orthodox Jews. It’s a rare moment where one of Judaism’s most important contributions to the world, that of guilt and remorse over moral wrong doings and the sanctity of life, are presented in such a heart wrenching way on film.
“What is most astonishing is that the two Jews have not traveled to this village to claim their stolen property, but the emotional effect of their silence provokes this issue out from the conscience of the villagers.
“The issue of the stolen property of the Jews is still relevant today. Just recently the Polish government issued a new law which states compensation funds will be awarded only to people that are Polish citizens in the present, thus withholding compensation to the Jews and their descendants whose property was absconded in Poland during these years.
“Although Germany started compensating Jewish victims in the 1950’s, most Eastern European governments are still dragging their feet on this issue.
“The film 1945 is an astonishing new achievement which I highly recommend every human being to see, regardless of his/her religion.”
THE LIGHT OF THE MOON Q&A schedule after 7:20 PM screenings:
11/16: Screening hosted by Imagination WorldWide and The Film Collaborative, with a panel featuring Director Jessica M. Thompson, star Stephanie Beatriz (Bonnie), actor Conrad Ricamora (Jack), Producer Carlo Velayo, Co-Producer Myriam Schroeter, Cathy Hillman of UN Women and moderated by producer Michael Cuomo.
11/17 ~ Panel with filmmakers.
11/18 ~ Talkback hosted by Julie Rosing, producer-host of the Lady Parts Justice podcast ReproMadness with LPJ founder Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show.
11/19: Seed&Spark/Big Vision screening with talkback hosted by Emily Best, the founder of Seed&Spark, Maggie van De Loo of the Crisis Text Line, Michelle Kantor of Cinefemme, and Amy Rosner, co-director of the upcoming documentary Second Assault.
Laemmle Theatres is pleased to open 1945 on November 24 at the Royal, Playhouse, and Town Center and December 8 at the Claremont 5.
‘1945’ Q&A schedule with director Ferenc Török:
Friday, November 24th
3:15pm Show – Town Center 5, Encino
7:50pm Show – Royal, West LA
Saturday, November 25th
3:15pm Show – Town Center 5, Encino
7:50pm Show – Royal, West LA
Sunday, November 26th
1:40pm Show – Playhouse 7, Pasadena
3:15pm Show – Town Center 5, Encino
5:35pm Show – Royal, West LA*
* with Michael Berenbaum, director of the Sigi Ziering Institute at
American Jewish University