A message from the Producers
Freedom Dance documents four months in the lives of artist Edward Hilbert and his wife, Judy, four months as refugees defiantly leaving Communist Hungary during the violent 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Along the way, Edward kept a journal in cartoon form detailing a trip defined by adventure. Our movie attempts to re-tell the Hilberts' eventful escape by inter-cutting original character-driven animation with recorded interviews and photographs.
Animation production is expensive but crucial to the success of our artistic objective. The producers are professional animators re-telling the story of a fellow cartoon artist who used cartoons to document an emotional, personal, and extraordinary drama. What more appropriate and obvious delivery of such a story than through animation? And in doing so, we believe we are contributing to a unique kind of documentary, one that advances the art of animation and its ability to tell a dramatic story the way Maus and Perspolis have advanced social commentary in the comics medium.
Freedom Dance is a necessary movie and important to us (and audiences) not only because of its highly creative use of animation in a documentary, but also because of the inspiring achievements of the Hilberts under extremely difficult conditions. Their uplifting example reminds us that America's freedom is a privilege, that dreams really do come true, and that the human spirit is capable of remarkable endurance.
This is the story of a young artist and his newly wedded wife literally running for their lives – on foot, by truck, by bus, by train and by boat – on a gutsy and determined quest for personal independence. Freedom Dance chronicles the four months Edward and Judy Hilbert spent escaping the ruthless control of Communist Hungary under cover of the riotous 1956 Hungarian Revolution as documented by Edward in a series of sketches defined by adventure: his apartment destroyed by a Russian tank (while he was home); a tense smuggling out of Budapest; the robbery by an opportunistic escort; a dream-like Christmas in Vienna; and a punishing boat ride across the Atlantic to America and freedom.
The decision to leave Hungary during a violent revolution is further complicated by the fact that Judy was still healing from the trauma she suffered in a German concentration camp at age 14. To survive the Holocaust and within 12 years endure four months as a refugee, homeless, defying the dehumanization from yet a second tyranny is glowing testimony to Judy's remarkable strength of character and incredible endurance. Revealed in her decision to stay with her husband during the most trying of times, under the most inhumane conditions, is a heart felt tribute to the inspiring beauty of true love.
Character-driven animation brings to life the pages of a powerful collection of cartoons, drawn during the winter of 1956, from a cartoonist using his passion to re-tell the greatest achievement of his life: realizing the dream of freedom!