EUFF and the Hungarian Embassy screen Inspirational Film “Semmelweis”
Last Saturday, the Ottawa Art Gallery buzzed with enthusiasm as the Hungarian film Semmelweis premiered at the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) in collaboration with the Embassy of Hungary to Canada.
Set in the 1840s, the film is based on the true story of Ignaz Semmelweis, known as ‘The Saviour of Mothers.’ It follows the life of the passionate Hungarian doctor as he struggles to find a cure for a mysterious illness, killing mothers and babies. Despite facing disfavour from hospital superiors and tension in the political world, Semmelweis discovered methods of medical practice that went on to save the lives of mothers for generations to come.
The premiere was part of the 38th annual EUFF, where each of the 27 EU member states showcased one of their latest films. Each year, the festival strives to share a variety of cinematic experiences by both emerging filmmakers and established directors. Tom McSorley, Executive Director of the Canadian Film Institute, highlighted the role of such festivals in building community, “In dark, turbulent times like these, attending a film festival is an important, immediate way to stay connected.”
The screening began with a heartfelt welcome by Her Excellency Maria Vass-Salazar, Ambassador of Hungary to Canada. She emphasized the film’s message of ‘the absolute commitment to helping people and to never giving up.’ She highlighted the film’s current significance to the Hungarian community, coming out the same year that Hungarian researcher and biochemist Dr. Katalin Karikó won the Nobel prize for her work in developing vaccines against COVID-19.
After the screening, hundreds of guests gathered for a lively reception. Ambassador Dr. Maria Vass-Salazar and McSorley were thrilled to see the successful turnout, a packed theatre of people gathering to experience various film styles and subjects. McSorley highlighted his gratitude for the event’s success after years of pandemic restrictions. “This is why I do what I do. It’s about having the people, the eyes and intelligence of our audiences meet,” he said, “This year, you can hear from the reception, the joy is back.”
The Hungarian Embassy was delighted to present Semmelweis to its third Canadian audience. “I truly believe that this is the best channel to foster relationships between our two countries and the people of our two countries,” said Ambassador Dr. Maria Vass-Salazar. “I have realized here in Ottawa particularly how receptive the Canadian audience is to our view of the world through art.”
The premiere of Semmelweis in Ottawa was a celebration of the historical significance of Ignaz Semmelweis and the artistry of Hungarian film. The Ottawa audience was rewarded with a personal video message from the director, Lajos Koltai. “Lajos Koltai is an outstanding artist. He has done so much for international cinema, both as a cinematographer and a director,” concluded Ambassador Dr. Maria Vass-Salazar. “His personal dedication to this film made Hungarians in Canada very proud today. It is great to be part of this celebration of both the message and the art.”
HEADER IMAGE: Her Excellency Maria Vass-Salazar, Ambassador of Hungary to Canada and Tom McSorley, Executive Director of the Canadian Film Institute.