Memories of a River

  • 147'
  • Hungary
  • 1989

Aged just 14, Solymosi Eszter vanished without a trace after having been sent on an errand on April 1, 1882. Soon, a rumour started to make the rounds in the village of Tiszaeszlár: a blood libel that Jews had killed the Christian servant girl. Paranoia grew when, more than two months later, the body of a drowned girl was brought out of the Tisza. At that point, voices in parliament were already crying out ferociously for the deportation of all Jews on Hungary’s soil.

On July 29, after a lengthy period of investigations, the last antisemitic trial in the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy began. It ended with the accused’s acquittal (one of them afterwards fled to the Netherlands). The so-called Tiszaeszlár Affair had already been the subject of three fiction features: Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Der Prozeß (1948), W. Lee Wilder’s The Vicious Circle (1948) and Erdély Miklós’s Verzió (1979). Judit Elek’s version is the most detailed and historically accurate – sticking close to the original court transcripts and sober in its presentation of a culture ready and willing to turn genocidal if given half a chance. And it’s not over yet.


Olaf Möller

Judit Elek
Countries of production
Hungary, France
Festival Edition
IFFR 2023
Original title
Gábor Hanák, Hubert Niogret, András Ozori
Production Companies
Játékfilmstúdió Budapest , Feeling Productions, La Sept, MOKEP-Kerszi
National Film Institute Hungary
Judit Elek, Péter Nádas
Gabor Halasz
Katalin Kabdebó
Production Design
Tamás Banovich
Sound Design
György Kovács
Péter Eötvös, György Kurtág
Sándor Gáspár, András Stohl, Pál Hetényi, Zoltán Mucsi, Franciszek Pieczka, János Ács

Programme IFFR 2023

Focus: Judit Elek

Judit Elek (1937) is among world cinema’s most uncompromising figures. Beloved by IFFR founder Huub Bals, yet to this day little known in wider circles, Elek made both fiction and documentary films that are almost brutally personal, reflecting as much the history of her native Hungary as her own trauma-riddled life. International Film Festival Rotterdam is honoured to present the most complete retrospective so far of an auteur whose works and wisdom are needed today as urgently as ever.

Read more about this programme