TORN FROM THE FLAG NEWSLETTER - FEBRUARY 2009
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead
Ladies and Gentlemen:
This progress report is to update you on the latest successes of and developments on Torn from the Flag, the multi-award-winning 96-minute documentary film about the decline of communism and the significant global effects of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight.
Successful screenings since our October newsletter took place at the following U.S. locations: the Ojai Film Festival, the Starz Denver Film Festival, the Santa Fe Film Festival and the Beverly Hills Hi-Def Film Festival, and also in Sarasota, FL and Seattle, WA. Canadian screening locations were Victoria, BC and Vancouver, BC. The film had its Polish premiere at the Plus CAMERIMAGE International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography.
A major success was Torn from the Flag's FIRST PRIZE WIN (out of over 100 films, including fiction films) in Beverly Hills! Filmmaker Klaudia Kovacs accepted the prize.
The Beverly Hills Hi-Def Film Festival is the 16th festival to which Torn from the Flag has been invited, and this is its 6th prize/acknowledgement so far. Thank you to those who voted for Torn from the Flag!
Another recent victory was that Klaudia Kovacs was chosen by the NY-based Vilcek Foundation as one of the top 15 candidates for the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. They choose from among young, foreign-born film directors working here in the United States.
Good reviews of the film continue to come in; Jonathan Richards of the Santa Fe New Mexican called the film "riveting."
Torn from the Flag, commemorating a nation's powerful way of being, was not only made l'art pour l'art, but also as a tool for social change.
In spite of regular and numerous requests during filmmaking, this film never received any help from Hungary's current post-communist government (MSZP), even though the government had specifically set aside a budget for 1956-related films to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Revolution.
Though the completed film has received many international accolades--according to the internet, it is the most award-winning 1956 film ever (including narrative films)--Hungary's current government has not yet offered any assistance for distribution, either, though the good news is that several local distributors are now interested in bringing the movie to Hungary.
However, in Hungary, filmmaking, as well as film distribution, mostly depend on government funding. If the government doesn't back it, then a film can't get distributed except in a self-funded, grass-roots way. Based on many teachers' and parents' feedback and inquiries, the film can also be used as an excellent educational tool. It was offered to the Hungarian Educational and Cultural Ministry in that capacity, but so far they have declined this offer, stating that they do not act as educational distributors. However, we found several books and a couple of documentary films that in fact were distributed by the Educational and Cultural Ministry, and some products were made part of Hungary's official curriculum. ("Distributor" is defined as an entity that gets a given product to its audience.)
According to pedagogues, there is a great educational need for Torn from the Flag, because all other '56 films have been seen, heard, analyzed, and consumed, and there is no other new film for educational purposes. This makes it now perfect timing for this film.
Given the circumstances, change is up to us citizens! So please ask your friends, teachers, parents, librarians you know in Hungary, USA, Canada and worldwide to join the film's email distribution list so that they can be informed about future screenings. The larger the network, the faster the film's message goes out. The recent U.S. election proved that a dominant internet movement can meaningfully help someone get elected president. We invite you to be unstoppable in creating similar power behind this film. Email TornfromtheFlag@hotmail.com (English) or ALyukasZaszlo@hotmail.com (Hungarian) to be added to the list.
Relating to this very subject, a revealing interview with Klaudia Kovacs on the connection between Hungarian politics and the film can be found here.
As stated in the interview, Hungary's current government (MSZP) in recent years has committed a series of serious human and civil rights violations, including the brutalities in 2006, during which many of the '56 Freedom Fighters and supporters of this film found themselves running for their lives.
Given the increasing crisis the nation is in, a new form of national solidarity and self defense has become necessary: the establishment of an organization that defends the rights and interests of Hungarians and of ethnic Hungarian communities in the Carpathian basin. Several reputable and effective attorneys founded a non-profit organization called the Foundation for Legal Defense of Hungarians' Rights (Nemzeti Jogvédo Alapítvány) Their goals are aligned with what was fought for in 1956 and what the Torn from the Flag project stands for: the empowerment of people, human and civil rights and freedoms, and true democracy that respects the rule of law. The organization works with the relevant international and/or national fora, like the European Tribunal, the European Human Rights Tribunal, the relevant United Nations bodies, the Constitutional Tribunal, and the Parliamentary representative of citizenship rights.
Filmmaker Klaudia Kovacs urges you to support the legal defense of the Hungarian nation. If you pay taxes in Hungary, please offer the customary 1% of your personal income tax for this purpose. If you do not pay taxes in Hungary, see here how you can help. In addition, attorneys are urged to join the work of the foundation.
Speaking of the law, lawmakers are now taking the criminal activity of film theft seriously and helping stop piracy, bootlegging, unauthorized copying, loaning, posting on the internet, public screening, etc. People and companies are now being held to account: recently a $28,000 fine was imposed on an illegal downloader (Back Stage West). A movie theater pirate (a person who illegally records a film in a movie theater) was recently sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment (Wired.com). "...unions, the studios, and the government [are] engaged in a fight against Internet and street [film] piracy...(illegally downloading copyrighted material from the Internet [and] making illegal copies of a legitimate DVD...for oneself or friends)." "Artists...lose...earnings to piracy, while federal, state and local governments lose tax revenue." (BSW) Hungary is catching up too! This issue is garnering more and more media- and lawmaker attention there, as well.
IMPORTANT! We need two English- and/or Hungarian-speaking, meticulous volunteers to help with distribution and internet research--location can be anywhere. Preferably 10-20 hours a week; flexible schedule; working from home.
As a reminder, there are two major chapters to filmmaking:
1. Making the film
2. Distributing it so the audience can see it.
Documentary distribution is now in a similar state to that of the world economy. That is why grass-roots distribution is crucial. The more people email us about their interest in ordering a DVD of the film, the faster we will be able to produce it.
The donors since the last newsletter were: Several Anonymous donors; Gabor & Elisabeth Ablonczy; Megan Alstrup; Yolanda Argeles; Gyorgy H. Arvay; Laslo G. Bako; Katalin Balogh; Gabriella Bitskey; Eniko & Eric Boguszewski; Zsuzsanna Botond; Ava Carlyle; Alexander & Agnes Csizinsky; Leslie & Jolan Csordas; Aliz Dalyai & Erno Pastor; Istvan & Susan Deak; Ildiko M. Deaky; Ursula Nadasdy DeGallo; Denes and Anthony Denes Devenyi; Z. & Hedy Devenyi; Dr. Laszlo S. & Eva V. Domonkos; Mr. & Mrs. George Eckschmiedt; Dr. John W. and Rosemarie Ertl; J.P. Ertl; Imre & Elizabeth Lily Farkas; John P. & Anne C. Feighner; Dr. Peter Forbath; Stephen I. Frater, M.D.; Rosi Freierdreiden; Laszlo Gardi; Maria Gardi; Jeno Gaspar; Sandor & Olga Generisch; Vilmos Graff; Dr. Melita Grazer; Csaba Hajdu; Katherine M. Hasz; Istvan Huff; Gabrielle M. Ivany; Hungarian American Association of Washington; Hungarian Cultural Society of Greater Vancouver; Laszlo Jozsa; Elizabeth or Imre Juhasz; Judith D. Kallo; Krisztina Kassay; Maria Kaveggia; Peter Kendeffy; John Kerti; T. Kocsis; Babi Krisztinicz; George & Ildiko Kunos; Kalman N. & Melinda A. Lehoczky; Dr. Peter Leidl; Helen Lengyel; George & Boglarka Marosan; Zsolt Mathe; Anna G. Matthews; Dr. Laszlo L. & Katalin T. Mechtler; Istvan & Katherine Mischak; Andre Molnar; Elek J. & Helena Molnar; The Molnar Group (Real Estate) Inc.; Gergely Mozsgai; Louis & Elisabeth Nemeth; Korinna Nikhazy; Imre Otvos on behalf of himself and Nicholas Conder, Mike Meagher, Janos Miska Kagakola Omendja and Dean Rysstad; Joseph R. Pannon; Laszlo & Sandra Papp; Dr. Peterdi; Elisabeth J. Peterffy; Peter & Sophie Petrusz; Physician Consulting Services/Harangozo; Karl N. & Rita H. Pool; Katalin Pozsar; Kinga Revesz; Ilona R. Ring; Anna Sandor; Andrew & Rita M. Sandor; Eva & Joseph Saunders; Marilla Satterwhite; Lilla Shkolnikov; Andrew & Charlotte Spevak; Drs. Agnes & Istvan Stadler; Katalin & Paul J. Szabo; Erwin & Maria I. Szakacs; Laszlo Szanyi; Miklos Szigeti; Anny & Attila Szilagyi; Maria C. Szuets; Takacs Family; Katalin & Attila Talaber; Col. Endre and Ilona V.B. Tamaska; Zsuzsa Tasnady; Julius Thiry; Zsuzsa Tolnai; Dr. Lajos Toth; Cs. Tusko; Ms. Tusko; Tuscan Walls, Inc./Laszlo Csepreghy; Zsuzsa Valoczi; Gyula Varga; Agota V. Vargha; Dr. Martha Ventilla; Peter Vladikovic; WACK; Marcella D. Woods; R. Botond Clementis Zahony; Michael Zoovas; Dr. Balazs Zsentits; and the Clayton, Dunham, Ghumman, Libabia, Means and Ulridge families.
We would also like to thank the following this quarter for their invaluable help: Tamas Acsady; Maria Baltay; Julia Bika; Julia Borsos; Agnes Brady; Dr. Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly; Gabriella Coburn; Monica Collins; Gabriella Dobecz; Yudit & Arpad Ecsedy; Livia Feher; Dr. Fekete Sandorne; Laszlo Gaspar; Gyorgyi Hegedos; Hungarian American Cultural Association, Inc. (Kossuth Club); Hungarian Cultural Society of Greater Vancouver; Hungarian Medical Association of America; Eva Keresz; Eva Kisvarsanyi; Eva Kossuth; Claire Mechan; Noemi Merli; Miklos Pardanyi; Barbara Roberts; Dr. Gregory Rowe; Oliver Schmidtke; Geza Simon; Curtis M. Smith; Kalina Solecka; Kazik Suwala; Helen M. (Ilona) Szablya; Janos Szablya; Steven Szablya; Judit Szy; Attila Toth; Thea Vakil; Amy Verdun; Agnes Vereczkei; University of Victoria; Esther Vitalis; Marek Zydowicz.
Thank you for your lovely emails celebrating the film's achievements with us! Please keep supporting this outstanding grass-roots community endeavor of freedom-loving people!
Torn from the Flag
"A documentary thriller. Superb." - Chuck Wilson, LA Weekly
"Recognition for cinematographers in general is long overdue. When it comes to Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond, it's clear that the American New Wave of the late 1960s and early '70s wouldn't have flowered as it did without them." - Leonard Maltin
"This was the most powerful and important film experience of my life. Klaudia Kovacs' work in tracking down all those marvelous witnesses and selecting the most illuminating and combustible quotes was unprecedented in documentary film-making." - Barry Farber, Talk Radio Network
"A definitive account. The most comprehensive chronicle of the Hungarian uprising yet caught on film. The film never bogs down. A lively piece of history, put together with a good deal of technical skill as well as unmistakable passion." - Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter
"Easily the best documentary film on the 1956 Hungarian revolution." - Istvan Deak, Seth Low Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University
"A quality production satisfying the highest expectations and demands. It chains you to your seat and helps us understand what freedom truly means." - Leslie Eloed, American Hungarian Journal
"One of the Most Important Cultural Events" - Magyar Nemzet