Posted on Wednesday September 6, 2006 by Steven Fischer
So, it’s about 6:30 pm last evening, I’m in DC with time to spare as I await the opening reception of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution Photo Exhibit at the Katzen Art Center (at American University). It’s been a busy morning and afternoon, up since 5 A.M., I’m feeling the drain of the day so I step into the campus canteen and up to the espresso counter. The server smiles as I order my shot and mumble something about needing to wake up. The server hands me a little coffee cup and says with a big smile, “Here ya go. No charge.”
No charge? (That alone woke me.)
What a sweet gesture, I thought. But then my thoughts turned comical. How exhausted does a person have to look before a compassionate coffee server starts giving away shots of espresso? (And I’m about to attend a big reception filled with dignitaries to try and spread the word about Freedom Dance????? What am I? Nuts?)
I figured this couldn’t be good. But, in fact, the evening was wonderful! I met a lot of great people, passed out a stack of Freedom Dance postcards, and started relationships with a Coalition president, a potential translator for the script, a prominant Hungarian journalist, and quite a few potential movie-goers. (Insert big smile.)
The opening remarks were given by Ambassador Simonyi of the Hungarian Embassy with whom I had two conversations over the course of the evening. (The new cultural attache, Zoltan Feher, had invited me to the reception.)
Zoltan is proving a good friend. He’s been a supporter of the movie for a long time and does a lot to help spread the word. At the reception, he introduced me to many impressive party-goers, survivors of the revolution, and the show’s curator (when I asked about using some of the photos in Freedom Dance).
By the way, the exhibit was sobering … a collection of work from a variety of photographers (amateur, professional, journalists, etc.) from the October/November ‘56, arranged in chronology. Images of soldiers hung and beaten; Stalin’s staute being torn down; city street torn; dispossessed refugees (one very touching photo, which Mr. Simonyi himself translated, showed a group of refugees in a school room lit only by window light, a haunting image. On the blackboard in the background was written a message. Something to the effect, “Istvan, I’m in Vienna. Please meet me there.” And it was signed. Such drama. A powerful plot point for a movie, I thought.
One realisation that made the night exciting was the fact that EVERYONE I met knew about Freedom Dance. You’ll recall several days ago a journalist at US News & World Report told me that before he even introduced himself tome he had heard people in the Hungarian community talking about the movie. That’s an encouraging sign!
Just the other day I received an email from a woman in California. Annette. She wrote that she came upon the movie’s website accidentally (I guess looking up 1956 themed items) and wanted to know if there was going to be a screening in Los Angeles. “Not yet,” I wrote back, “but working on it.” Then I asked if she had any connectinos to the local Hungarian community and she replied multiple times with addresses and names of all sorts of potential screening venues. Such a wonderful person!
Similar circumstance with a woman in Ohio. The public’s interest is exciting. I’ve had projects with minor popularity in the past, even multi-national publicity for one little thing I did, but never was there an excited anticipation like the buzz I’m hearing for Freedom Dance.
But I know so much of this has to do with Bryan Dawson and the American Hungarian Federation, and Karoly Dan, Zoltan Feher, and Ambassador Simonyi at The Embassy of Hungary, and Andrea Lauer at Freedom Fighter 56, and the folks at Fox 45 and Maryland Public Television and Baltimore Magazine, The Mayor’s Office of Baltimore, the Baltimore Jewish Community Center and so many others … I can’t think this fast! So many wonderful friends and colleagues who been spreading the word for us. THANK YOU ALL!!
In store for another long night tonight … late evening promotional photo shoot with photographer Stuart Dahne the Great Dahne … great photographer! I need updated headshots and these promise to be the most superficial, outrageous, campy, GQ portraits one has ever had the insanity to make! More on that later. ;0]