I’m Maya Erdelyi, a director and animator who is working on an experimental animated documentary about my Hungarian grandmother’s life and journey to America as a World War II refugee, escaping the Nazis and finally Communist Hungary in 1949.
Upon her passing this past summer I rescued a large box with many hours of super 8 footage of the third chapter of her life: a triumphant achieving of the elusive “American Dream”—a happy, lasting marriage; a large family, home-ownership, etc. It struck me that most people upon looking at this footage would be fooled by the normalcy of the images (the road trips, birthday parties, family gatherings), the happy memories, not knowing what it took for my grandmother to get there. I see these super 8 films as a fascinating historical documentation of the other side of Holocaust stories; the story of what happened after the War was over.
I believe that “Anyuka” is a singular American story of one woman’s survival and ultimate triumph over tragedy.
What you see above is a preliminary "trailer" of some of the footage, and the beginnings of working with the text. There is still so much more footage and all the animation to create.
Here is a pinterest board I created to start getting the mood and aesthetic of the animation: https://www.pinterest.com/erdelyiperez/anyuka/
WILL YOU HELP ME TELL THIS STORY?
“Anyuka” (mother in Hungarian)—will combine hand-drawn animation with found super 8 family footage taken by my grandparents covering a span of 30 years including numerous road trips through America, travels to Africa, family dinners, and birthday celebrations. The film will be an experimental animated documentary of my grandmother’s life and journey to America as a World War II refugee, escaping Communist Hungary in 1949. I will be using fragments of her memoir as a script and structure to follow. Similar to the way stories are told on long road trips, her history will unfold as we travel through different lands as captured in the super 8 films, and through reminiscences of the past through drawn imagery.
An abstract narrative and visual poem, “Anyuka” came out of a desire to illuminate the hidden stories behind these happy captured memories. What nightmares did Anyuka endure to finally experience the American Dream?
Why this story:
After the death of my grandmother this past summer, I felt compelled to create a film after going through hours and hours of the super 8 footage she left behind. I feel that her story of survival and attaining the American Dream is remarkable, and one that deserves to be told.
"Born Jewish, Veronica was raised with a dual spirituality, and in her 20’s converted to Christianity, becoming a Methodist. Her Christian faith, however, did not shield her from the brutalities of World War II. A survivor of the Holocaust and Nazi atrocities, and later the ravages of Stalin, a widowed Veronica escaped Hungary at age 30, with her 6 year old son Matthew. Miklos Erdelyi, her husband, died in Auschwitz in 1944.
It was an 8-year journey to American citizenship—from Budapest to the countryside, carried through minefields into Austria, and by ship to Venezuela. While living in Caracas, Veronica married an Italian Engineer, and became a stepmother to his three children. In 1958, the journey was complete, and she and her son Matthew became U.S. citizens, settling down in Forest Hills, Queens, in New York City. Just a few years after moving to the USA, Veronica was widowed a second time.
Veronica joined the First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills soon after arriving in NYC, where she later met her third husband, Dr. John D. Frame, and became stepmother to his three children. Though widowed three times, Veronica’s last marriage to Dr. John D. Frame, an esteemed Tropical Disease doctor and former medical missionary, lasted 45 very happy years."
--written by Karina Erdelyi (granddaughter of Veronica Földes Frame)
Questions I would like to address with the film:
What do we leave behind after we die? What are the thoughts that cascade the mind at the moment of death (if any)? What do we remember? What moments do we focus on? What small details and big moments bloom in the mind at the moment of death?
Stills from past films:
Voiceover by the award-winning Israeli-American actress: Hani Furstenberg
(currently starring on broadway's "Cabaret" imdb.com/name/nm1139455).
Music/Sound Design by my long-time collaborator: Paul Fraser www.paulfrasermusic.com
The animation will involve creating a lot of hand-drawn animation sequences (using digital rotoscope techniques along with some analog drawing processes)—specifically, white line drawings over the super 8 footage. Expected length: 10 minutes.
Maya Erdelyi is a NYC and LA based animator, director and artist. She creates intricate hand-made animations and collages inspired by imaginary worlds, memories, and the unconscious. Shown in various national and international film festivals, galleries and museums, her award-winning animations utilize a hybrid experimental approach to cut-paper stop-motion, puppetry, hand-drawn and computer animation processes.
Maya is a 2014-2016 Visiting Faculty member in Animation at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She is also the Animation Director at CDN (Children’s Documentary Network) launching in a few months in NYC. Maya is a 2012 MFA graduate in Experimental Animation from CalArts, and is represented by 6PointMedia, a Hollywood Animation Studio.
Clients and collaborators include: VICE, Intel, CDN, TV on the Radio, Michel Gondry, Aaron Rose, Levi’s, Toyota, BRIC media, and FAKE BAND COLLECTIVE among others.
Many thanks to FANDOR.COM for giving me a $5000 FIXshorts matching grant to begin animation and complete the film. I still need to raise another $5000 to finish "Anyuka". I hope you will support this film and spread the word. Thank you so much.
Fandor is creating a community of film lovers and makers connected by meaningful and entertaining cinematic experiences.
For more information, please visit www.Fandor.com
THESE PROJECTS ALREADY HAVE SOME AWESOME PRESS:
This from VARIETY on the project: http://variety.com/2015/film/news/fandor
VIDEOINK - March 13, 2015 "Fandor Dives into Original Content - via Kickstarter" by Sahil Patel http://www.thevideoink.com/news/fandor-dives-original-content-via-kickstarter/
FILMMAKER MAGAZINE - March 12, 2015 "Fandor to Finance Original Shorts Program" by Sara Salovaara http://filmmakermagazine.com/93448-fandor-to-finance-original-shorts-program/
Risks and challenges
I think the biggest risk/challenge is simply working with a hard deadline, although, simultaneously, there is something great about that too. I have blocked out three months this summer to completely dedicate myself to working on the animation portions and completing the film. I feel excited and ready to take on that challenge.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)