Thursday, February 21, 2019 -
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‘Keep Quiet’

Csanad Szegedi, left, with Rabbi Boruch Oberlander. (AJH Films)

Csanad Szegedi, left, with Rabbi Boruch Oberlander. (AJH Films)

The story of Csanad Szegedi is as unlikely as it is fascinating. And what’s really surprising is how little coverage it has received. That has all changed now with the release of “Keep Quiet,” a documentary screening next week at the Boulder Jewish Film Festival.

Szegedi’s story has been covered here and there — most often in Orthodox Jewish media. His story proves the axiom “truth is stranger than fiction,” and deserves a much wider audience, which hopefully “Keep Quiet” will bring.

In 2011, Szegedi, a leader in Hungary’s right-wing nationalist Jobbik party, discovered he was Jewish. The information came to him via an anti-Semite, whose interview in “Keep Quiet” is chilling. This man, Zoltan Ambrus, was looking to bring Szegedi down. In Ambrus’ words, “Jews cannot be trusted.”

Szegedi was no random member of Jobbik. He was the founder of its paramilitary, the Hungarian Guard, a rabble-rousing mix of populists, militants, extremists and outright Nazis. He was also one of the party’s three representatives in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

How does someone like this, steeped in right-wing anti-Semitic nationalism, reconcile himself to his Jewish identity?

It wouldn’t be surprising if Szegedi simply went into denial mode, but instead, he embarks, together with a rabbi, on a journey of discovery — one that is neither straight forward or easy.

In a way, he has no choice: He is rejected from Jobbik, thrown out of the party that had formed his entire adult identity to this point.

Throughout, Szegedi remains honest about the conflict within him. It is a moving, powerful personal story about what happens when the deepest illusions are broken.

“Keep Quiet” screens Monday, March 13 as part of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival.


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