Friday, April 15, 2016

Ariela ponders Keep Quiet (2016) Tribeca 2016

From Nazi to Orthodox Jew?

Keep Quiet is a documentary about Csanad Szegedi, an anti-Semitic Hungarian man who at 26 was vice president of Jobbik, Hungary’s right wing political party. He says early on in the movie that anti-Semitism and Jewish discrimination were motivations of the group. He also denied the Holocaust, saying Jews didn’t want to assimilate and are responsible for it. He feels the Holocaust is the same as any other disaster in the world.

At some point, Csanad gets a phone call from a guy who said he did investigating and tells him that he is Jewish. That his great-grandmother was Jewish, and so his grandmother and mother are Jewish. (Judaism is a matriarchal society) Csanad feels like a dagger went through his heart. He felt that being Jewish is the biggest insult and that being Jewish is the one thing he never wanted to be.

Csanad goes to speak with his grandmother who turns out is a Holocaust survivor. She shows him her tattoo. He doesn’t understand how he had never seen it before. She always covered it up, she always felt ashamed. She was always told to “keep quiet” and that Hungary would never be a place for the Jews.

He had to face reality. He got kicked out of the political party for being Jewish.

He didn’t know what to do and so he sought out a rabbi of the Orthodox Union in Hungary. Many people were against the rabbi talking to Csanad but the rabbi says that every Jew is welcome; that you’re not allowed to say we don’t want you based on your past & so he takes Csanad under his wing to help him.

The film was heavy at times, especially when there was recounting of the Holocaust by his grandmother and another survivor, but these were also probably my favorite parts, because it was in these few moments where we saw Csanad get emotional.

Can people change? Can people’s identities do a 360 in the course of a year? Will Csanad stay an orthodox Jew or will he revert back to his old ways? I, like many people in the documentary itself felt skeptical. But is up to the viewer to decide. I think this is a film that would be interesting to stay for the Q&A at the screening.

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