What: A special screening of Freedom’s Fury, a documentary that explores the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 through the eyes of the Hungarian Olympic water polo team as they prepared to play at the Melbourne Olympics. This event marked the 50th anniversary of the Revolution.
Where: The Uptown Theater
When: Friday night, 7-9 p.m.
Who: Celeb enthusiasts who came to the theater early to see executive producer Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Lucky Number Slevin, Kill Bill: Vol. 1) were a bit disappointed, as she was fashionably two hours late. Arriving on time were the brother-sister filmmaker duo known as The Sibs, Colin Gray and Megan Raney. The Ambassador of Hungary, Andras Simonyi, who was a young child in Hungary during the Revolution, called the film honest, decent, and passionate in a post-screening speech. Also in attendance were Secretary of Commerce Carlos Guitterez and Mrs. Guitterez, President Bush’s Cuba Transition Coordinator Caleb McCarry, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, and the former Ambassador to Hungary and Founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation Nancy G. Brinker.
Scene: The marquee was lit and the red carpet was unfurled, giving the Uptown Theater the feel of a legitimate Hollywood premiere, albeit on a much smaller scale. After the big names posed for pictures and talked to reporters on the carpet, the guests were herded into the massive theater boasting the largest movie screen in DC for the showing. A wave of excited whispers arose when Liu was finally ushered in about 20 minutes before the movie’s end. She stood with the Sibs and Simonyi after the screening, where Simonyi presented her with the 1956 commemorative coin issued for the 50th anniversary of the Revolution—one, he said, of only a handful that have been distributed since the beginning of the year. The Sibs were both given the Knights Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. Guests were asked to stay seated at the end of the event so Liu could get out of the building without difficulty. That was the end of Liu.
The Movie: The Sibs make a clever parallel between the Hungarian Revolution and the Olympic water polo match of Hungary versus the Soviets, often called the “Bloodiest Game in Olympic History.” After a successful uprising against the Soviet Union’s totalitarian rule in 1956, Hungary was reinvaded 12 days later, leaving 5,000 dead and even more homeless, having fled the country. Just three weeks later, the Hungarian water polo team was set to play the Soviets at the Melbourne Olympics. Hungary’s victory that day has forever been a symbol of the passion that Hungarian citizens possessed in their quest for freedom. The film weaves archived film footage with some re-created scenes as well as current interviews with the members of the Hungarian and Soviet water polo teams. When it was released in Hungary, the film was No. 1 for a week, and is now in limited release in the U.S., although they’re looking for a wider release to roll out soon.
The Food: Popcorn and soda, anyone?
Highlight of the night: Having the chance to speak with one half of The Sibs team, Raney, who called her experience on the red carpet “Crazy, because I’m just a camera operator.” Friendly and seemingly humble, she said that seeing the positive reactions of the Hungarians has been one of the greatest rewards she has felt since the release of the documentary.
Bold Face Guests: 3 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 4 (out of 5)
Food/Drinks: 1 (out of 5)
Overall Exclusivity: 4 (out of 5)
Total: 12 (out of 20)