There Was Once (Egyszer Volt)

, , 2012

Screened at —

JIFF 2012

While looking for a subject for a dissertation, Mrs Gyöngyi Magò – a high school teacher in Kalocsa, Hungary – uncovers the Jewish community that once thrived but is now non-existent in her city.

Across the course of this documentary, she engages her students in the fight against prejudice amid the re-emergence of neo-Nazism in Hungary today. She has managed to persuade the city leadership to commemorate the extinct community on the 65th anniversary of the liquidation of the local ghetto and the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz and other camps.

She is not Jewish.

Gyöngyi Magò emailed filmmaker Gabor Kalman after finding his name on the ‘Jaross List’ – the official list of Jews to be exterminated in 1944 – when he was just nine years old. As a filmmaker and Holocaust survivor from Kalocsa, he felt uniquely qualified to put her story on film.

“Gabor Kalman’s endlessly surprising new film is a testament to the power of dynamic storytelling – whether on a screen or in a classroom – to raise the dead.” NPR

Australian Premiere

103 min / Hungarian with English Subtitles

Director — Gabor Kalman