Hungarian actress Marina Gera’s winning the International Emmy Award for best female performer is not only a huge victory for Hungarian cinema but also raises awareness of Soviet war crimes that saw millions deported from their countries.
Gera’s nomination for the award as the first Hungarian actress was in itself a rare moment of grace for Hungarian culture, but actually winning it elevated the event to a whole new level.
This was a minor miracle because – let us not fool ourselves – the Western world is largely unaware of Soviet war crimes, and the tragic fate of the tens of millions of deported and killed both in the Soviet Union and the occupied countries. They have every reason to be ignorant, as there were no major movies about the topic and in this century.
When it comes to culture and general public awareness, anything that is not the subject of a major movie may as well have never even happened.
Anything that is not the subject of a major movie may as well have never even happened.
Eternal Winter tore down a wall and marked the end of a taboo. The multiple awards gathered by the movie – 31 and counting, including Best European Television Film – signals a paradigm shift which is entirely the movie’s doing.
We have heard too often that we cannot achieve international success with Hungarian history and many even accepted this as the inevitable fate of small nations.
But the success of Eternal Winter showed that Hungarian cinema can be successful in continuing the grand tradition of its most notable creations dealing with national history and social drama. We had to wait thirty years for a movie about the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian deported to the Gulag but now that it is here, we can hope that the eternal winter has finally ended, heralding the onset of a new Hungarian spring.
Title image: Marina Gera with the International Emmy Award for best actress (MTI/EPA/Jason Szenes)