|Year of production||2011|
|Scriptwriter||Judit Elek, László Berger|
|Creative Advisors||George Sluizer|
|Head od Studies||Christian Routh|
|K Kieslowski ScripTeast Award/Special mention||–|
|Producers/co-producers/ funding /||Danielfilm Studio (Hungary) in co-production with Artis Film (Romania) and Sweden’s Illusion Film with support of Film-I-Vast a Goteborg and Eurimages.|
|Festivals/ awards/ cinema results||Louisville’s International Festival of Film 2012:won
Best Feature Feature Film-
Moscow International Film Festival 2011:nominated
Golden St. George Judit Elek
|Synopsis||Katherine, who survived the Holocaust at the age of seven, visits her once left fatherland of Transylvania, Romania for the first time departing from Sweden with her family. Not only the happy and the frightful memories of her once forgotten past come to life, but she also has to face the depressing reality of Ceausescu’s communist dictatorship and the romance developing between her husband and her sister. Parallel to her story and simultaneously, we get to know her childhood love and friend Sandor, who serves the dictator as a forester and whose story has a tragic ending. The film ends with the surprising and odd encounter of the two stories.|
|Link to the project – archive||http://scripteast.pl/retrace/|
The protagonist of the film, Katherine (41), was born and raised until the age of seven in a Hungarian-Jewish family in Transylvania (Romania). In 1944, her mother saved her from the wagon of Jews destined for deportation to Auschwitz from the then Hungarian-controlled Transylvania. Katherine’s three older siblings and her mother perished in the Holocaust.
At the end of the war, her father takes Katherine to West. She becomes obsessed with feeling guilty for her survival which has continued to devour her ever since.
The film begins with the non-conventional burial of Katherine’s father. The ceremony takes place on the top of a lighthouse in the presence of the family, celebrated by a Rabbi. The last will of the father is to throw his ashes to the air at the ocean. He wanted to share the fate of his beloved ones and the other millions of Jews. We hear about this will from the Rabbi himself who accepted to break the rules of his Worship to fulfill the last will of a Holocaust survivor.
Afther this scene opening credits appear, while the family returns from the lighthouse to their home in a sea-side town.
Katherine’s husband, Steve (55), a psychiatrist, suggests to Katherine to revisit her native land. Perhaps the trip will help Katherine let go of her selfdestructive guilt. They travel to Romania with their daughter Judith (5) and Katherine’s half sister Julie (23).
Their visit takes place in the summer of 1980, in the most evil era of the Ceausescu dictatorship. The entire plot plays out within this eerie Kafkaesque setting.
At the same time of Katherine’s journey, a parallel story unfolds of Sándor (41), who was born in the same place as Katherine. He still lives in the mountains as a forest ranger with his wife Anna (35). Now, he is preparing for the dictator’s hunt with Zoli (14), his nephew.
As Katherine and her family drive deep into the wild mountain country, she revisits her idyllic and horrifying childhood memories. Slowly she pieces together that Sandor is the same person as the Boy (6) Child Katherine (6) use to play with, her first childhood love.
Their present stories are connected by fatal coincidences. Sándor and Zoli find the dead bodies of his wife and her lover in his wine cellar in an unmistakable position. The poisonous gas emitted by the grapes killed them. In his first flush of anger, he empties his hunting rifle into the carcasses. Because of this, he is forced to flee the police as a murderer.
Katherine watches as a romance develops between her husband and her young sister during the journey. When she accidentally witnesses them passionately kissing, she leaves the hotel. She ends up driving to her native village alone in the middle of the night.
She finds her desolated and decrepit childhood home and the tavern once owned by her grandfather in the small village hidden within the mountains. This village is where Katherine learns from her aunt Lenke (70), a survivor of Auschwitz, about the horrific death of her oldest sister Vera (17). On her way back she comes upon the decaying Shepherd’s Shed, the place where she use to play with Child Sandor and where he kept her alive with food when she took refuge here during the war. The shed has already been surrounded by the police, but they only find the dead body of Sandor; his tragic rampage followed by the film has ended – he has committed suicide.
As Katherine leaves her dictatorship-ridden homeland with her family, we feel that she finally found herself. She has matured to embrace her past and she will be able to keep her husband’s love and her family together.
July 06, 2011
Graduated from the Academy of Theatre and Film Art – Budapest in 1961. At the beginning worked as an assistant director, made several adaptations and newsreels in Mafilm. Founding member of Studio Béla Balázs. Founding member of the European Film Academy (1988).
Her awards include:
Béla Balázs Award /1986/
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres61986/
Officer of the order of merit of the Hungarian Republic /2006/
Prix Kossuth (2008)
Full-Length Feature Films include i.e.: The Lady from Constantinople , Maria’s Day, Memories of a River, The 8th Day of the week and many others, both feature and documentaries.
Judit Elek’s is one of the best known and most active filmmakers in Hungarian industry. Her films were selected and awarded at many international film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Locarno and Montreal.
Laszlo was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary to filmmaker parents in 1970. He went to film school in Vancouver Canada and worked his way through the ranks working as Camera Assistant, Camera Operator and Gaffer to become Cinematographer. He has photographed several feature films, documentaries, commercials and music videos internationally for theatrical, DVD and broadcast distribution. His first commissioned writing contribution came with “Whose Forest Is It?” a screenplay co-written with his mother, Judit Elek for Alliance Pictures in 1999. Laszlo resides between Hungary and Israel today. His feature film writing credits include, as co-writer: WHOSE FOREST IS IT?, A HÉT NYOLCADIK NAPJA (The Eighth Day Of The Week); as a playwright: LATE NIGHT SESSIONS, 508 NELSON.
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