Flim Shows Unity, Strength Within Hungarian Community
November 5, 2006 7:41 PM
Fifty years after the Hungarian revolution, a film that brought a large Hungarian population together was shown in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library.
The film by Sally Gati, “Starting Over in America”, was shown Sunday afternoon and included a reception.
Congressman Tom Lantos, who is Hungarian, opened the event with stories from his time in Hungary.
“That students stood up against the Soviet super power is unbelievable, almost irrational,” said Lantos.
The Hungarian revolution began on Oct. 23 as a student led protest and quickly spread across the nation. After ceasing control from the Soviet backed communist forces, the Soviet Union quickly squashed the revolution and close to 200,000 Hungarians fled the country.
Lantos went on to say that the American government talked the Hungarians into rebelling against their own government, and then didn’t offer their support.
However, there is one important positive lesson that Lantos thinks all Hungarians should learn from the U.S.
“We are all created equally,” said Lantos. “This has not been an easy lesson for Hungarians to learn. Although I am pleased to note that we are making some headway.”
The film featured 14 Hungarians who fled to America from Hungary after the 1956 revolution. Their stories showed the reasons behind their leaving, and what they encountered once they arrived here.
After the film, which lasted just shy of an hour, there was a panel of three people featured in the film, Frank Gati, who is Sally’s husband, and Andy and Cecilia Rekay.
When approached with the question of going back to Hungary and how they deal with homesickness, the ‘56ers described different coping mechanisms.
“My husband said ‘I don’t go on vacation to a place where I escaped from,’” said Cecilia Rekay. “The first time we went back was in 1989, and there were still bullet holes in the sides of buildings. So, to deal with homesickness we go to Hungarian church, and eat Hungarian food.”
Frank Gati, who has gone back to Hungary with his family every two or three years since 1971, has other feelings of the country he fled.
“I never developed tremendous hatred for communism,” said Gati. “I didn’t like them, I just didn’t hate them.”
Sally Gati has been working on this film since 1997, and it has become a labor of love for her.
It wasn’t until she met her husband Frank Gati that she realized that her own great grandmother was Hungarian.
“So we had a closer connection than I thought,” said Sally. “And the revolution played a big part in our relationship because if it weren’t for that, he wouldn’t have left.”
Frank Gati is proud of her for making the movie. He is also encouraged about the topics that it covers.
“It is an immigrant movie,” said Frank Gati. “It showed what the immigrants went through, and what the government was like once they got here.”
Marianna Csavosi, 52, a viewer of the film, was only 2 when the revolution occurred. However, it was a life changing experience even for someone as young as she.
“The film was unbelievable,” said Csavosi. “During the revolution my parents did not leave. I left Hungary in 1982 and came here in 1983. I was considered a refugee because I married an Iraqi, which was illegal at the time of Saddam Hussein. My husband could not get residency so then we came here.”
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