Big Screen Berkeley: ‘1945’ and ‘Little Pink House’

Two strangers disturb a Hungarian village in 1945

The arrival of two black-clad men (Iván Angelusz and Marcell Nagy) with an apparent consignment of dry goods sets off panic in a small Hungarian village in director Ferenc Török’s drama 1945. Opening at Landmark Theatres Albany Twin on Friday, April 20 (it was briefly listed as screening at Landmark Theatres Shattuck), 1945 provides a welcome rejoinder to the lurid ministrations of Hungary’s current anti-Semitic Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

It’s the post-war summer of ’45, and the villagers are living with an uncomfortable open secret: a year ago, the Pollaks — the village’s only Jewish family — were deported and their property duly redistributed among the remaining residents. The arrival by train of two Orthodox Jews with heavy chests in tow spurs the station master to hurry to town and sound the alarm: though he doesn’t know who the men are, he suspects they’ve come on behalf of the Pollaks to help them reclaim their property.

The news quickly unsettles the otherwise sleepy hamlet and disrupts the wedding of magistrate’s son Arpad (Bence Tasnádi) and willowy maiden Rozsi (Dóra Sztarenki). Riven with guilt but determined to keep their ill-gotten gains, residents start digging in — no one is going to take from them what they have taken from others, including those nice rugs.

Shot in lustrous black and white by cinematographer Elemér Ragályi. 1945 is a timely examination of Hungarian historical memory. Over the course of 1944, the fascist wartime government of Miklos Horthy sent half a million Hungarian Jews to German concentration camps, and, today, Hungary seems set on revisiting the shame of 70 years past, with PM Orban proclaiming the need for harsh treatment of refugees and migrants and passage of an ominous series of ‘anti-George Soros’ laws.


Tibor Szemzö’s unobtrusive minimalist score is the perfect accompaniment to this quiet tale of guilt and potential redemption. One of the best films of the still relatively new year, 1945 won the Best Feature award at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival.

‘Little Pink House’ will please both Trump supporters and detractors

Catherine Keener in Little Pink House

Also opening at the Shattuck on the same day, Little Pink House is an advocacy film with a difference: it’ll probably appeal to both you and your mid-western MAGA relatives. That’s because the subject is eminent domain, a bête noire of the left (because it crushes David at the behest of Goliath) and the right (because it infringes on property rights).

Based on a true story, the film stars Catherine Keener as nurse Susette Kelo, whose idyllic riverside bungalow is one of a group of New London, Connecticut houses seized by a redevelopment agency and given to pharma giant Pfizer, who promised to erect a Viagra factory on the property. The case wound its way all the way to the Supreme Court, where a 5-4 decision upheld the right of governments to conspire with big business to take your home.

The twice-Oscar nominated Keener has long been one of my favorite American actresses, and she’s outstanding here as the stubborn Kelo, who became the spokesperson of the anti-eminent domain movement. A feel good movie with an unhappy ending, Little Pink House was executive produced by prominent Trump supporter Robert Mercer’s Republican daughter Rebekah — I told you no one likes eminent domain!