The film is about Réka and her sister Eszti trying to find out what their father did as a freedom fighter during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The story unfolds as the women take their father’s ashes from the U.S. to Hungary to fulfill his dying wish to be buried in his native land, a place to which he never returned after fleeing in 1956. The journey veers off course when the sisters realize that their father’s role in Hungary’s revolution was never really questioned – and never really documented. Maybe it never happened.
Taking place in Budapest a half-century after the fateful events that took nearly 3,000 lives and forced more than 200,000 Hungarians to emigrate, Journey Home documents Laszlo Pigniczky’s daughters as they take a personal – sometimes disturbing, sometimes humorous – trek into the history of 1956. Armed only with their deceased father’s vague anecdotes and their own curiosity about the past, they try to piece together the puzzle of their father’s role in Hungary’s seemingly futile battle against the Soviet Union.
The sisters research their father’s story at the Hungarian secret service archives, interview surviving ‘56ers who might have known and fought with their father, consult with historians, and physically try to retrace their father’s footsteps from the first days of the revolution, through the street fights of early November, until his escape through Yugoslavia to the United States.
They find out far more than they hoped for, although their father’s story takes a number of unexpected turns along the way. By the end of the film, his journey home has become their own emotional journey to understand their father and the events that shaped both his life and their own upbringing.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything this good. … The American style of cinematic storytelling is masterful… The scenes are hard-hitting. The people are human.”
Béla István Szabó (Gondola.hu)
“This is real drama, you couldn’t have made this up. Just like you couldn’t have made up the follow-through, the reconciliation , the happy ending and the journey home, which is one of the most traumatic and simultaneously most uplifting moments we’ve seen on screen lately.”
György Báron, Filmvilág
“I found myself choked up for 40 out of the film’s 88 minutes, because everything the movie had to say about the revolution, its aftermath, about émigré Hungarians both now and after the revolution, about memory and about our children – everything spoke to me personally, as an individual.”
Klára Varga, Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian national daily broadsheet)
“Of the large number of films produced on the occasion of the revolution’s 50th anniversary, Journey Home is probably unique, for it focuses on the story of a single individual… using documentary techniques.
András Kósa (Hírszerzô.hu)
Winner of the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 38th Hungarian Film Week (2007)
Winner of the Best Investigative Film Award at the Film.Dok Festival (2007)
Winner of the Best Hungarian Film Award at the Dialektus Film Festival (2008)
Official Selection of the Seattle International Film Festival (2007)
Official Selection of the Los Angeles Hungarian Film Week (2007)
Official Selection of the Lagow Film Festival (2008)
Réka Pigniczky and Barnabás Gerő
56Films/ Pige Ltd.
Sík Andrea and István Őri-Kiss (Kiss-Sík Studio)
Erika Sólyom, Katica Avvakumovits
In 1956, Hungary was a satellite of the Soviet Union, occupied since the end of the Second World War by Soviet troops. A Communist system was imposed upon the country by force and maintained through systemic terror and Stalinist policies. On October 23, 1956, a student demonstration in Budapest turned violent when secret police snipers fired upon the crowd. Within hours, Hungarian civilians throughout the country took up arms and rose against the Communist system. This revolution - the first such break in Communist Eastern Europe - was victorious for about one week.
It was crushed by Soviet troops on November 4.