Last night I was privileged to attend a test showing of Judit Elek’s new movie Visszatérés (Return). I wasn’t exactly sure what a “test showing” meant so it was rather helpful that the director introduced the movie, but only in terms of where it stood in the process of production. The version we saw was an edit, but far from being the final one. The sounds were not mixed properly yet from the various channels, which meant that that the background noises were often too loud and occasionally I couldn’t hear or understand everything. Similarly the director excused the version we saw shown from DVD, explaining that the colors are off to the real thing and a lot of the important details are lost this way, compared to the final theatrical release and some of these details may even hinder understanding all the intricacies of the plot. 3 or four other members of the film’s crew were there along with about 15-20 people in a small theater, Studio K.
When writing about films I usually like to share my thoughts and impressions of them. This time I think it wouldn’t be fair as I know I haven’t seen the final product. But without any specifics let me just tell you that I am glad I saw the movie although there were some things I didn’t understand. Most of these were explained after the movie during the conversation with the director. We, the audience were asked to provide feedback so the movie could be improved further upon. This request led to a lively exchange for 40-50 minutes, some members of the audience gave more animated responses, others like myself pointed out/asked clarification details. It was illuminating to hear from the films’ creator the thought processes and circumstances behind the screen. I am looking forward to the final edit and hopefully will manage to get a copy to try to show it at the Santa Rosa Jewish Film Festival, of which I sit on the committee on.
I found a way to share something about the content of the movie itself without. On Studio K’s website there is a page about the evening with a brief synopsis. As it is on a public page I believe it is alright to translate it into English:
Katherine, who survived the Holocaust as a seven year old, returns from Sweden to her home land in Transylvania with her family for the first time in 1980. Here, she not only recalls the happy and frightening memories of her lost childhood, but also has to face the depressing reality of Ceausescu’s communist dictatorship and the love affair between her husband and sister. At the same time the tragically ending story of her childhood friend and love– Sandor who serves the Dictator as a forester — also comes alive. The film ends with the surprising and unusual meeting of the two stories.
I want to thank here, publicly Judit Elek and her team for making this movie and allowing me to watch. It was an engaging story (or even two-three) that I found many nuggets to reflect upon, some of it personally touching me.