Those Who Remained Finds Joy After the Holocaust

Károly Hajduk and Abigél Szőke in Those Who Remained. Photo credit: Lenke Szilágyi.

Those Who Remained focuses on the healing process for a young girl and the father figure in her life following the Holocaust.

I’ve seen a number of Menemsha Film releases through the years and Those Who Remained is one of the best films that they’ve acquired for domestic release. In a perfect world, I would have attended a screening during the 2019 Chicago International Film Festival. Alas, the fall chagim falling during the week made it next to impossible to attend.

The film picks up a few years after the end of the Holocaust. It is 1948 when we meet both Aládar “Aldó” Kőrner (Károly Hajduk) and Klára (Abigél Szőke). Aldó is a 42-year-old OB-GYN living in Budapest and lost his wife and children. Klara is 16-years-old and lives with her grandmother after losing her parents and siblings to the Nazis. There is a tenderness in the film that comes as the two start a surrogate relationship. Both have lost so much in the span of just a few years. One way or another, their meeting each other brings a sense of joy that they’ve sorely been missing after so much loss. This newfound joy comes at a time when the Soviets come to power. If it’s not the Nazis, it’s someone else. It’s easy to look at it as a father-daughter relationship but others might not see it that way.

Holocaust films and even post-Holocaust films have to walk a fine line. Do they want to come off as tragedy porn or not? One can only watch so many films that focus on the death and destruction. This one focuses on rebuilding lives following the Shoah. Another Menemsha release also deals with Hungarian Jews returning from the camps, 1945. Listen, there are so many stories to tell but there’s not enough time or money to tell them all. In any event, screenwriters Barnabás Tóth and Klara Muhi base their script on a novel by Zsuzsa F. Várkonyi. Where so many Holocaust films look at the tragedy of it all, Those Who Remained chooses to look at the humanity in the post-war years when survivors are learning to find joy and hope again.

Those Who Remained was selected for the 2019 Telluride Film Festival before being shortlisted as the official Hungary selection for Best International Feature. Unfortunately, it did not earn a nomination. It took home four awards at the Hungarian Film Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Actor. As far as I can tell, the film is only now getting a U.S. theatrical release from Menemsha Films. While IMDb shows a 2020 release date in the US, it was more than likely a festival screening.

DIRECTOR: Barnabás Tóth
SCREENWRITERS: Barnabás Tóth and Klara Muhi
CAST: Károly Hajduk, Abigél Szőke, Mari Nagy, Barnabás Horkay, Katalin Simkó, Andor Lukáts, Adél Jordán, Zsolt Zayzon, Éva Igó, Angéla Stefanovics, Miklós Paizs, Veronika Varga, Gyöngyi Soma Spitzer

Menemsha Films released Those Who Remained (Akik maradtak) in theaters on April 28, 2023. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.