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Thu, 26 Oct 2017 05:08:32 EDT by webmaster, 3739 views
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Cultural Studies paper by Portuges, Catherine (all papers)
1945: A Hungarian Film Reckons with Antisemitism
Based on Gábor T. Szántó’s acclaimed short story Hazatérés/Homecoming, 1945 (dir Ferenc Török, Hungary, 2017) features a superb ensemble cast, lustrous black and white images shot by world-renowned cinematographer Elemér Ragályi, a score by Tibor Szemző, and historically detailed art direction, all of which contribute to an eloquent drama that confronts a traumatic chapter in the history of the Holocaust in Hungary.
In the immediate aftermath of WWII, two Orthodox Jews arrive by train on a sweltering August day as a domineering village notary is about to marry off his son to a peasant girl, catalyzing an unwelcome reckoning with the recent past for the local inhabitants. Meanwhile Red Army soldiers lurk on the sidelines, seeking to enrich themselves through the daily business of Occupation.
My presentation contextualizes the film's portrayal of the complex postwar situation at a pivotal moment in Hungarian life, exacerbated by housing and food shortages, and the status of possessions expropriated by the state and allocated to the people, and when Jews who had been deported and survived often found themselves targets of a new wave of antisemitism. Through film extracts and stills, I interrogate the film's narrative of distrust and denunciation, guilt and denial, recrimination and reparation in dialogue with historical documents and first-person video testimony from the USC Shoah Foundation.
Brief Professional Bio:
Catherine Portuges is founding director of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, professor of Comparative Literature and Film Studies, and curator of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival, University of Massachusetts Amherst. A frequent lecturer at international conferences, an invited programmer, curator, juror and consultant for film festivals and colloquia, and a delegate to international film festivals, her books include Cinemas in Transition in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 (Temple, 2013); Gendered Subjects (Routledge, 2012); and Screen Memories: the Hungarian Cinema of Márta Mészáros (Indiana, 1993). Her recent essays have appeared in Cinematic Homecomings: Exile and Return in Transnational Cinema; Cinema, State Socialism and Society in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1917-1989: Re-Visions; Bringing the Dark Past to Light: the Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe; Projected Shadows: Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Representation of Loss in European Cinema; Cinema's Alchemist: The Films of Péter Forgács; and A Companion to Eastern European Cinemas.
Prof. Portuges is a member of the Academic Advisory Board for the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies, and serves on the editorial boards of Studies in Eastern European Cinema, Jewish Film and New Media, and Hungarian Studies; she has recently been appointed associate editor for film for the journal American Imago. She was awarded the Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Teaching, the Pro Cultura Hungarica Medal from the Republic of Hungary for her contributions to cinema, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for "The Subjective Lens." The working titles of her current book projects are "Filming the Holocaust: Third Generation Eastern Europe" and "Hungarians in Hollywood."