Co-Sponsored by Liki and Joe Abrams
Extreme in his anti-Semitic beliefs and denial of the Holocaust, Csanád Szegedi rose up through the ranks to a leading position in Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party and became a member of the European Parliament. At the height of his political career, documentation surfaced showing that Szegedi’s maternal grandparents were Jewish. This caused his party to swiftly eject him. In a stunning about-face, Szegedi chose to explore his family’s Jewish roots and study Judaism by enlisting the help of an empathic rabbi who believes that everyone born Jewish deserves a chance to practice their religion. He even made a trip to Auschwitz with Holocaust survivors. In a revealing interview Szegedi’s beloved maternal grandmother acknowledges that she was a survivor of Auschwitz and, given the stigma returning Hungarian Jews faced, hid her tattoo under long sleeves for the rest of her life, much of it spent under Communist rule. His mother married a non-Jew and decided to embrace Hungary’s nationalist heritage. In retrospect, both women wonder if Szegedi’s hurtful anti-Semitism was the price paid for their silence. While carefully nonjudgmental, this fascinating film raises tough questions: Regret or repentance? True convert or charlatan? And what is to prevent yet another about-face in a middle-aged man’s life?
—Sara L. Rubin