100 year old movie in my hometown

100 year old movie in my hometown

I just arrived back from my birth place, and I left the city when the local TIFF – Transilvania International Film Festival began. At the end of the summer in 1971 I had my very first article published ever in the local newspaper and it was a film review! That’s one reason I felt bad I had to leave the city without participating at TIFF.

TIFF poster

TIFF Poster

Although there was a film presentation during this year’s festival, which was way more interesting than the personal references.

The Hungarian Theatre from my hometown (Kolozsvár-Cluj-Klausenburg) had a genius CEO (to use a modern word) between 1905-1930, who also became a pioneer film producer and director. Jenő Janovics is noted outside of our country mainly as a successful film director of the silent film era. Few people know he was also the mentor of a couple of young Hungarian talents, who became world famous afterwards… they actually started their film career with Janovics. Like Korda Sándor – better known for the world as Sir Alexander Korda. Or the first Hungarian actor that made a film in Hollywood, Várkonyi Mihály – under the name Victor Varconi.

Then, around 1914 Janovics wrote a screenplay based on a play by a contemporary writer (Ede Tóth), titled A toloncThe Exile ( < see it in the IMDb). The director of the movie was another young Hungarian protegé of Janovics - Kertész Mihály. Although “kertész” means gardener in Hungarian, you may be more familiar with some distorted versions of this name, like Curtis or Curtiz. Yes, because Kertész Mihály was later the director of the legendary Casablanca and many other famous movies – as Michael Curtiz.

Until 2008 we thought all the copies of this 1915 movie have been lost. In that year a former classmate of mine (actually, we were sitting in the same bench in the high school) found it in a cellar in New York and after a very complicated journey the 16 rolls arrived to Hungary and later they were digitally restored. And this year it was shown in the present Hungarian Theatre, which was build exactly where Janovics used to make his very first films.

Here is a short clip from the movie: