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Nov 27, 2019

Marina Gera wins coveted International Emmy Award

Marina Gera's win at the International Emmy Awards is not only a huge victory for Hungarian cinema but also raises awareness of Soviet war crimes that saw millions deported from their countries.

Hungarian actress Marina Gera won best performance by an actress at this year's International Emmy Awards, the first for a Hungarian actress.

Gera plays the lead female role in the Hungarian film Örök tél (Eternal Winter), a fictional account of an ethnic German woman from western Hungary pushed into years of forced labor in the Soviet Union at the end of World War ll.

Rmx.news points out that while the story itself is fictional, the movie tagline says it is "based on 250,000" true stories.

With the Soviet Union facing a chronic work shortage at the end of WWII, the harsh reality is that Soviet Union deported millions of people from occupied Central and Eastern European countries for years of forced labor.

While exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that up to 600,000 Hungarians were placed in forced labor conditions, including an estimated 200,000 civilians. An estimated 200,000 citizens perished in work camps.

Gera, 35, a graduate of the Budapest Theater and Film Academy, has already won three other international awards for her role in the movie.

While preparing for the role, she submitted herself to a grueling diet, saying in an interview after she was nominated for the award, "I stopped at 46 kilograms (101 pounds). I was under a harsh diet for the previous two months as women are actually starving in it."

Magyar Nemzet states that Gera's win at the International Emmy Awards is not only a huge victory for Hungarian cinema but also raises awareness of Soviet war crimes that saw millions deported from their countries.

Gera's nomination for the award as the first Hungarian actress was in itself a rare moment of grace for Hungarian culture, but actually winning it elevated the event to a whole new level.

This was a minor miracle because - let us not fool ourselves - the Western world is largely unaware of the Soviet war crimes, the tragic fate of the tens of millions of deported and killed both in the Soviet Union and the occupied countries. They have every reason to be ignorant, as there were no major movies about the topic and in this century.

When it comes to culture and general public awareness, anything that isn't the subject of a major movie may as well have never even happened.

Eternal Winter tore down a wall and marked the end of a taboo. The multiple awards gathered by the movie - 31 and counting, including Best European Television Film - signals a paradigm shift which is entirely the movie's doing.

We have heard too often that we cannot achieve international success with Hungarian history and many even accepted this as the inevitable fate of small nations.

But the success of Eternal Winter showed that Hungarian cinema can be successful in continuing the grand tradition of its most notable creations dealing with national history and social drama. We had to wait thirty years for a movie about the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian deported to the Gulag but now that it is here, we can hope that the eternal winter has finally ended, heralding the onset of a new Hungarian spring.

Photo credit: 444.hu