Background

When we met Jakab Gláser he was old and weary but seemed indestructible. We were all quite sure that he will just keep on telling his ancient stories and jokes – and live forever. Sometimes, however we had doubts so we wanted to make a movie just in case he won’t.

As none of us were rich film producers the movie project just kept on being delayed for years. Then in 2000, seemingly out of nowhere, the French-Hungarian documentarist Barbara Spitzer popped in the Shul. She was on a quest searching for her relatives, her Hungarian and Jewish roots and in the process systematically visited every single synagogue in the country.

She was not a procrastinating type and started shooting a few days later. In the following years, we shot hours and hours of footage about Old Gláser as well as other members of the congregation, the Shul and the neighborhood, District Eight.

Then she had to return to France and the project was halted. It was frozen for years. Meantime Old Gláser disproved our theories of his immortality and at the age of 95 died along with other old members of the Kehile (community).

The Shul had a very good chance of vanishing, but it didn’t. The community changed a lot – it had to. A younger generation started to frequent the old rooms and we began a gradual and careful renovation.

In 2009 Barbara returned to continue the documentary. She was present when the facelift of the “blue room” started. She recorded Old Gláser’s memorial celebration at the cemetery, and made follow-up interviews. But the most amazing part was the exploration of Old Gláser’s house. He was born in the very room he lived in until he died. It turned out that his son, Tamás hadn’t moved a thing in his father’s house for 4 years. Apart from the dust nothing changed, everything was the way it was left by the old man – and a legion of mice. We made amazing discoveries from old wartime photographs to Old Gláser’s grandparents‘ clothes, letters and furniture.

The movie project is still on.

At the moment, it seems, “Tales of Teleki tér” will be the main title of a trilogy not just of one episode as it is today.

The one episode available today will be the second part of the trilogy.

The title of the first part in French is planned to be “Tonton Jacobine” or (?) “Oncle Jacobine”. The Hungarian title is “Juci Bácsi”. This was actually the nickname of Jakab Gláser – not an easy name to translate into English. “Old Man Jacobine” is as near as I could get in translating it, but we are open to suggestions…

The second part is work-titled “Teleki square Jew”, and is more about the community and Teleki square then the first part.

The third part is strictly about the happenings of the year 1944 in the neighborhood and is going to be created using the video interviews of the research and archive materials from that era.

 

Stage of production:

The filming project has been injected into a bigger research project in 2012. This bigger project is partly financed by EACEA (EU agency) and we also won a complementary grant from Mazsök.

The first episode consisting of footage from 2000-2009 of the edited material was first screened in Vörösmarty cinema, Budapest. We won support from MTVA for editing. Editing is underway at the moment. Estimated premier is in the first half of 2019.

The second episode was edited from the support of the Civil Alap grant of the Hungarian Government.

First public screenings of the first version second film were hold at the Budapest Jewish Filmfestival (ZSIFI) in November 2014 in Hungary, and in Detroit (MI) and New York City (NY) in December 2014.

The film went through an editorial revision after the first public, pre-release screenings in the USA.

In February 2017 the final (as of today) version of the film was screened one time in Budapest (25/2/2017) Bem Mozi and since has been screened in numerous film festivals in Hungary and abroad.

In May 2017 the film won the at the Eurasia International Monthly Film Festival:

Best Documentary (over 40 min)