By Greg Stemm
Peter Hargitai, Gulfport’s first Poet Laureate, screened a new documentary about his life and his book “Daughter of the Revolution” at the Gulfport Public Library Thursday, July 6. The topic centered around the 1956 Hungarian uprising when the local population tried to throw off the yoke of Soviet domination. Hargitai’s family fled the country to the United States during and after the revolution. A full room of spectators included local residents of Hungarian descent.
The 52-minute film is by Új Budapest Filmstudió, produced by László Kántor and directed by Tünde Talás. It focuses on poet/writer Peter Hargitai who lived in Budapest as a 9-year-old. during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He told the crowd that the experience haunts his life, and it was not until 50 years later that he published “Daughter of the Revolution,” the story of a 14-year-old girl who becomes a woman warrior. At the event July 6, Hargitai emotionally described how many of the freedom fighters were young people, men and women as young as 11 or 12. In the documentary he describes horrifying scenes including one where he and his aunt were trapped in a church while a gun battle raged outside.
To mark the 60th anniversary of the uprising, Hargitai comes to Budapest with his son to revisit his past. He narrates his journey as a young immigrant in America and reflects on his motives to write his book as a way of dealing with his traumatic experiences and to pay tribute to the legacy of all Hungarian young women who fought for freedom. Animated scenes are weaved into the multilevel historical narrative, helping the film to resonate today for audiences young and old.
Said attendee Jude Bagatti to Hargatai, “Tonight’s presentation was, I think, the most engaged and emotionally transparent that I’ve seen you. Not only did you inform about that historic time and events, but you cracked open your own humanity.”