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1945: A Holocaust-themed film with the brooding pace of a Western

A remarkable film that takes up the story of European Jews where many films leave off

 

    Filmmaker Ferenc Török’s 1945 studies the aftermath of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. Shot in black and white it takes an unflinching look at citizens of small towns in Hungary and elsewhere who benefitted from the deportation of their Jewish neighbours.

    The story revolves around two Orthodox Jews (played by Iván Angelus and Marcell Nagy), possessed of steely determination, who return to a Hungarian village to reclaim – the villagers believe – what was taken from them during the Nazi occupation.

    There’s a pivotal scene where angry villagers with pitchforks surround the two Jewish men as they pray for lost relatives in the village’s disused Jewish cemetery although the story also touches on non-Jews who kept the possessions of their Jewish neighbour safe when they were transported away by the Nazis.

    The film plays out like a classic Western, except instead of waiting for the 3:10 to Yuma we attend the arrival of the 3:10 from Auschwitz. The New York Times’s Ben Kenigsberg said 1945 was “a Holocaust film built, consciously or not, on a reversal of the tropes of the western, down to ticking clocks that might as well be nearing high noon.”

    Based on a short story by Gábor T. Szántó, the film has garnered rave reviews across the board. It won awards at the San Francisco Film Critics Circle as well as at the Berlin Film Festival and the Jerusalem Film Festival.  Variety’s Alissa Simon described it as “A fresh, intelligent cinematic approach to a difficult topic that takes on a transitional time in Hungarian history with subtlety and nuance.”

    The film opened this week in the US. It was shown at the Edinburgh International Film Festival earlier this year and will be shown as part of this year's UK Jewish Film Festival. Screenings include the Centrepiece Gala on November 15 attended by the filmmakers, followed by screenings in Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Nottingham. For more infomration visit http://ukjewishfilm.org/film/1945/

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