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Inheritance: A Fisherman's Story
A Film by Peter Hegedus
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film stillWhen a dam burst at a Romanian goldmine in early 2000, more than 100,000 tons of cyanide was released into the Tisza River, devastating its ecology as well as the livelihoods of subsistence fishermen in neighboring Hungary. This spill created Central Europe's worst ecological disaster since Chernobyl.

INHERITANCE: A FISHERMAN'S STORY film follows fisherman Balazs Meszaros as he struggles with the effects of the disaster on his own community, and attempts to confront the corporate forces behind the mining operation

In an effort to preserve the memory of an ancient way of life, he wrote a book titled My Inheritance. In it, he tells the world about his life as a fisherman, and how the cyanide spill affected on both his work and personal life. Since the disaster Balazs has been unable to provide for his fiancée, Edit, and as a consequence their relationship is failing.

Balazs eventually traveled to Romania to investigate the origins of the disaster. He wanted to see where the cyanide actually came from, and whether incidents like this are likely to happen again. After his visit, Balazs concludes that another spill could easily reoccur.

film still

In a turn of events, Balazs is elected President of the Fishing Co-op, which was nearing bankruptcy. Now responsible for over 60 fishermen, Balazs is faced with the difficult task of leading the organization through desperate times. In midst of this hopelessness, Balazs travels to Australia to confront mining company responsible for the spill, to discuss compensation, and present them with a human face of the tragedy.

As INHERITANCE follows Balazs's efforts to preserve a way of life, and documents his transformation from quiet fisherman into a man who stands alone against huge multinational corporations, it exposes the environmental, and human, consequences of unregulated globalization.

Also available in a 52 minute version

"Brilliant! Very important! Candidly and captivatingly handles one of the dark sides of globalization. Not only is the story quite remarkable, the protagonist is a treasure."- DOX Documentary Film Magazine

"An excellent film for the global environmental history. It introduces several themes for discussion: corporate and national responsibility for national resources, proper risk planning as part of the project structure, and the significance of collateral cultural damage: an aspect overlooked by many films that study the problems of environmental degradation."- H-Environment Discussion Network

"[We] particularly appreciated INHERITANCE for its portrayal of a critical, timely environmental story that gripped our audience with its human element."- Committee of the Portland International Nature and Environmental Film Festival

"A valuable and illuminating tool, particularly for those teaching environmental history."- Darin Kinsey, Researcher, Canadian Chair for Environmental History, Université du Québec a Trois-Rivieres

"Intimate… Compelling! A rich, complex portrait of the Hungarian fishing community."- Variety

Spirit of Activism Award, 2005 Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Best Environmental Film, 2004 Portland International Nature & Environmental Film Festival
Best Documentary Award, 2004 Real Life on Film Festival
Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking Award, Australian Center of the Moving Image (2004)
2004 Planet in Focus Film Festival
2004 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Special Jury Award, 2003 International Scientific Festival
First Prize Award, 2003 Global Peace Film Festival
Best Young Documentarian, Hungarian Film Critics Association (2003)
2003 Margaret Mead Film Festival
2003 Visions Du Reel (Switzerland)
2003 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

75 minutes / Color
English / English subtitles
Release: 2004
Copyright: 2003

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Also available in a 52 minute version

Subject areas:
Anthropology, Biology, Business and Economics, Cultural Anthropology, Eastern Europe, Ecology, Economics, Environment, Geography, Globalization, Hungary, Mining, Nature, Politics, Romania, Science and Technology, Water

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