Neither Memory Nor Magic
The Life and Times of Miklos Radnoti
A Documentary Produced and Directed by Hugo Perez
Executive Produced by Greg Carr and Noble Smith
in collaboration with the Carr Foundation
From Dawn Until Midnight (1938)
I lived but, always being unskilled in life, I knew
Right from the start that in the end they’d bury me –
That year silted on year, clod followed clod, stone stone,
And that, down there, the bones in cool, worm-ridden gloom
Would shiver in nakedness, when the body had overflowed.
That up there, time would blunder about my work with a drone
As I sank deeper in the earth and into darkness...
All this I knew. But the work: will it have lasted?
In the spring of 1946, a mass grave was unearthed in the Hungarian village of Abda. Twenty-two decayed bodies were found sprawled in the pit. One of the bodies found in the grave was that of the poet Miklos Radnoti, shot into the grave by Hungarian fascists eighteen months earlier. Found in the front pocket of his coat was a small notebook soaked in his bodily fluids. It was laid out to dry in the sunlight and when examined later revealed the poets last poems carefully handwritten onto the ruled lines of the notebook. In the so-called Bor Notebook, Radnoti, through poetry, told the story of the last six months of his life, months spent first as slave labor in a Nazi labor camp in Bor, Serbia, and then on a three-month forced march from Serbia to the small village of Abda where he was killed when he was too weak to continue.
Radnoti’s final poems serve as the backbone of the narrative of NEITHER MEMORY NOR MAGIC to reveal the story of a poet who continued to write poetry even as he faced almost certain death. Through the use of evocative and lyrical Super8 footage, readings of the poems to represent Radnoti’s account of his life, and interviews with some of those who knew him best and who got to know him in his last days, NEITHER MEMORY NOR MAGIC tells the story of one poet’s triumph over the inhumanity of his age –a story previously untold outside of Hungary.
NEITHER MEMORY NOR MAGIC is the feature documentary directorial debut for award winning filmmaker Hugo Perez whose work has been featured on HBO, Showtime, and PBS. Neither Memory Nor Magic is narrated by ACADEMY AWARD® Nominated actress Patricia Clarkson, edited by ACADEMY AWARD® Nominated filmmaker Francisco Bello and Co-Edited by ACADEMY AWARD® Nominated filmmaker Tim Sternberg. The Executive Producers Greg Carr and Noble Smith most recently executive produced Jessica Yu’s celebrated documentary feature PROTAGONIST.
Read the Director's Statement about what led him to make this film. Click Here
Ferenc Andai on the slope of a copper mine in Bor, Serbia, the site of the labor camp where he first came to know Radnoti in 1944 in what would be the last months of Radnoti's life. Andai returned to Bor in 2005 for the first time in 61 years. Pictured with him is Cinematographer Chuck Moss.