Wednesday, November 30, 2016


In 1956, brave students in Hungary embarked on an unplanned march in Budapest. The Russians brought in tanks. Sometimes students found reprieve as guns were handed out by resistance fighters to civilians on the street to fight the Russians. Told through the narration of former author Anna Porter who witnessed much of this as a 12-year-old girl, she escaped  with her mother after a close call at Shopron border crossing of being turned back by Russians to New Zealand, and finally after much traveling around the world, she settled in Toronto.

Canada, through the amazing leadership of Jack Pickersgill who was immigration minister in Canada, he arranged for free transportation and settlement at Powell River in Vancouver. The entire forestry school of Shopron was adopted by Simon Fraser University. Most became great professors. This is a story about student resilience, and Canada taking 37,000 refugees like guests.  There are three parts to this film: the student massacre by the Russians and on and off again occurrence in 1956. The forestry students who escaped to Shopron and fled to the Austrian border were the lucky ones. The settlement in camps at Powell River and the return to visit the country they in the film left behind. Anna porter has written several books about the entire lost generation of bright young people and those that ended up in Canada. A pivotal, important film that shows how Canada rallied when the rest of the world didn't. Canada's generosity to these Hungarian refugees paid off.. It became one of the best success stories regarding the plight of refugees. Canada was their saviour. Archival clips, past and present testimonies make this film truly riveting. Many personal touches recreate the entire period of danger and safety. A CBC documentary. This film was shown at the Hungarian Film Festival, titled “Freedom First” in Toronto.

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