TORN FROM THE FLAG
I directed, produced, and wrote the story of Torn from the Flag the most accomplished documentary in Hungarian film history according the Hungarian National Film Fund's database. The eight-time-award-winning movie participated in the Oscar competition in the "Best Documentary" category. The Hungarian title is A lyukas zászló.
The sociopolitical picture is about the Cold War, the international decline of Communism, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. I made my film with Oscar-winning Cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond, and legendary cinematographer, Laszlo Kovacs, whose last film was Torn from the Flag. The following notables appear in the documentary in person or in archive footage:
- Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union
- Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States of America
- Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Prize-winning former United States Secretary of State
- Otto von Habsburg, last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary
- William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning Political Scientist and Author
- Mark Kramer, Historian and Program Director of Harvard University's Project of Cold War Studies
- George Vassiliou, former President of the Republic of Cyprus
- Arpad Goncz, former President of Hungary
- Gyula Horn, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary
- Imre Pozsgay, former Minister of State, Culture, and Education of the Hungarian People's Republic
- Janos Berecz, Secretary of the Communist Party Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hungarian People's Republic
When making Torn from the Flag, I created a community of 20,000 people, gathered 2,000 investors, donors, and in-kind donors, and 50 non-profits for the North American Hungarian community’s largest project ever. During the process, I have been chosen for Panavision's Young Filmmaker Program and got sponsored by Technicolor. It took me long 9 years to finish my film.
The movie was selected for and premiered at the American Film Institute, AFI FEST Milestone Selection–described as "celebrating the best of the best"–along with films by Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni. The tickets sold out in 40 minutes and we received a standing ovation.
According to several critics (Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter) and historians (István Deak, Columbia University), Torn from the Flag is the "most comprehensive chronicle of the Hungarian uprising yet caught on film" and “the best documentary ever made” about this topic. Altogether the film has been invited to 20 film festivals.
The President and the Prime Minister of Hungary awarded my work with the Hero of the Freedom Fight Award. Also, the film was presented to the United States Congress and was also entered into the Congressional Record.
To commemorate the "most under-publicized historic event of the 20th century" a.k.a. the heroic Hungarian Revolution of 1956, our production collaborated with multi-award-winning fine artist, Gabor Koranyi, to create a 15" x 11 3/4" size etching, also entitled Torn from the Flag. This one of a kind print became the cover art for the second edition DVD of the film! There are only 150 original pieces available for purchase and of course, I myself own one!
One thing that I'm more proud of than anything else is that Torn from the Flag is now an educational tool for future generations studying at universities, colleges, and high schools! The learning guide of an organization, named Teach with Movies, suggests the documentary to be used for History, Political Science, Film/Cinema/Media Arts, and European Studies. The movie is a powerful tool for topics concerning Russia, Soviet Union, Hungary, and Communism. It can also be applied for social-emotional and moral-ethical learning when discussing Human Rights, Citizenship, and Courage.
For our educational, library, and public-use DVD, we created a 20-page color booklet that includes:
- Producer's Notes about the history of the production
- Picture and Description of the Torn from the Flag Etching
- List of Interviewees and a Description of their background
- Index of Filmmakers
- Details of Soundtrack
- Names of Investors, Donors, and In-Kid Donors
- Directory of "Thanks" and "Special Thanks"
These universities and high schools held screenings and/or purchased Torn from the Flag DVD copies for their institutions and/or libraries:
- Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
- Stanford University, Standford, CA
- California State University - Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
- Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
- University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK
- Elmira College, Elmira, NY
- Bryant University, Smithfield, RI
- University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
- St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
- Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
- Simpson University, Redding, CA
- Auburn High School, Auburn, WA
I'd like to complete this page by emphasizig that our film, Torn from the Flag, could not have been made without the utmost generosity of the Hungarian American and Canadian communities. I personally will always be grateful for their assistance with this grand project that, hopefully, will be a worldwide educational and human rights tool for years to come. My continuous international film screening and public speaking tour serves this very purpose.
If you'd like me to bring our movie, Torn from the Flag, to your institution, have a discussion about the film with your students, get a DVD for your local library, own a master piece art work commemorating the human spirit, or obtain a poster, visit our STORE.