No one was more surprised than 40-year-old academic economist Miklós Németh when he was named the Prime Minister of Hungary. The year was 1989 and communism was on the brink of collapse and Németh, an outsider with few friends in the Party, was suddenly responsible for the seemingly impossible task of saving the country from bankruptcy.
1989: A STATESMAN OPENS UP takes viewers behind the scenes of Németh's administration during the most critical year in recent European history. As Németh travels to Berlin, Bonn, Bucharest and Moscow, meeting with his increasingly worried fellow Warsaw Pact leaders and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the film reveals the role that developments in Hungary played in the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent collapse of Communism throughout Eastern Europe.
Convinced that free elections were coming and that the Communist Party would lose them, Németh seeks to avoid a repeat of the events of 1956, when Hungarians' rebellion against Soviet domination ended with tanks in the streets.
Within the space of a few months, he seeks the blessing of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, sidelines hardliners, and navigates the crisis that erupts within the Party when the body of Prime Minister Imre Nagy, one of the heroes of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, is discovered in a Budapest field.
Finally, when Németh allows tens of thousands of East Germans to flee to the West across the Hungarian border with Austria, he makes the historic events that would soon grip Berlin inevitable.
1989: A STATESMAN OPENS UP uses transcripts of high-level meetings read by actors, contemporary interviews with Németh, and extensive archival footage to create a sense of immediacy and urgency in telling this pivotal, remarkable story.
Winner, Prix Italia Award for TV Documentary, Cultural & General Interest Category
CPH:DOX Documentary Film Festival, Denmark
Memorimage Film Festival, Spain
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Estonia
Cinema for Peace Film Festival, Germany
Paris L'Europe autour de l'Europe Film Festival, France
Hong Kong International Film Festival, China
It's All True International Documentary Film Festival, Brazil
DocAviv International Documentary Film Festival, Israel
Planete Documentary Film Festival, Poland
Goteborg International Film Festival, Sweden
“Intelligently moulded, filmically provocative, entertaining and informative.” —Tue Steen Müller, Filmkommentaren
”The mix of archive material and interviews works well.” —Michael Søby, CPH-Culture
“The story of possibly the last victim of the Iron Curtain, who paid the supreme price.” —Natalie Yahya Rosendahl, Magasinet ØST
“Puts us on the same plane as the characters.” —Klaus Rifbjerg, Ekko
”Reconstructions laden with reality and archival material buried beneath the Iron Curtain in equal measure relate the tale of the demise of the Eastern Bloc.” —Rikke Collin, Filmcitat