After 45 years, Hugo Gryn returns to his hometown, Berehovo, in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains. It is a glimpse of a time when half the town was Jewish and evokes the world of Hugo's childhood.

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After 45 years, Hugo Gryn returns to his hometown, Berehovo (Beregszasz), in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains-closed to visitors from the West until recent years. It is a glimpse of a time when half the town was Jewish and evokes the world of Hugo's childhood. But that world has all but vanished, leaving only ghosts and shadows. In 1944, at the age of 13, Hugo Gryn was deported to Auschwitz, along with his family and 15,000 other Jews from Berehovo. Miraculously, Hugo survived two death marches and nearly a year working for the Nazis as a slave laborer. After the war, he came to Britain with a group of child survivors, trained as a rabbi and went on to lead a distinguished career. Chasing Shadows follows Hugo's return to his childhood home, evoking bygone Berehovo with the help of rare, pre-war archive footage. The film is not so much a lament as a celebration of the beauty and intensity of Jewish life in this all but forgotten household in the Family of Israel. Written by Naomi Gryn

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1 April 1991 (UK)  »

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£180,000 (estimated)
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a brief but worthwhile oral history
9 November 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This hour long British documentary follows the homecoming of London Rabbi Hugo Gryn to the city of Berehovo, once in Czechoslovakia, now (in 1990) a part of the Soviet Union, where he finds the once thriving Jewish population all but gone. Little is left of the town he knew so well, but Gryn is able to recall, in mostly rose-colored memories, the people, places, and events of his childhood, favoring details of daily life in the Jewish community over an account of its death during the Holocaust (Gryn himself was on the last cattle car to Auschwitz, and he relives the moment 45 years to the day after it happened). There's a lack of spontaneity to his narrated voice-over observations, but they at least serve an important purpose: by recalling the past, Gryn succeeds in preserving it, and the film is an intimate (if sometimes mundane) eulogy to a way of life now gone forever.


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