After 45 years, Hugo Gryn returns to his hometown, Berehovo (Beregszasz), in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains-closed to visitors from the West until recent years. It is a glimpse of a time when half the town was Jewish and evokes the world of Hugo's childhood. But that world has all but vanished, leaving only ghosts and shadows. In 1944, at the age of 13, Hugo Gryn was deported to Auschwitz, along with his family and 15,000 other Jews from Berehovo. Miraculously, Hugo survived two death marches and nearly a year working for the Nazis as a slave laborer. After the war, he came to Britain with a group of child survivors, trained as a rabbi and went on to lead a distinguished career.
Chasing Shadows follows Hugo's return to his childhood home, evoking bygone Berehovo with the help of rare, pre-war archive footage. Rare film of Carpathian Jewish farmers shot by Roman Vishniac, newsreel footage of Hungarian troops entering Berehovo after the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia and -by bizarre coincidence- the only known photographs of the arrival and selection at Birkenau including those of the Jews of Berehovo.
The film is not so much a lament as a celebration of the beauty and intensity of Jewish life in this all but forgotten household in the Family of Israel.
"... an extraordinary bridge between then and now." - The Daily Telegraph
"... a rich evocation of rural life between the wars and a quiet lament for the later terror." - The Guardian
"... this film could have been a wholly mournful one. Instead, through Gryn's superb storytelling and warm and engaging personality, the viewer comes away with a feeling of loss and hope... highly recommended." - Library Journal
Article from THE JEWISH ADVOCATE
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UK, 1990, 52 minutes, color/B&W
Directed by Naomi Gryn
Public Exhibition formats: 16mm, Beta, DVD