• István Szabó

    by Susan Rubin Suleiman
    Price $26.95
    In Stock
    István Szabó

Susan Rubin Suleiman at Harvard Book Store


István Szabó:
Filmmaker of Existential Choices

in conversation with DAPHNE KALOTAY


April 19, 2024
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes SUSAN RUBIN SULEIMAN—C. Douglas Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France at Harvard University and author of Daughter of History—for a discussion of her new book István Szabó: Filmmaker of Existential Choices. She will be joined in conversation by DAPHNE KALOTAY—award-winning author of Russian Winter and The Archivists.

About István Szabó: Filmmaker of Existential Choices

István Szabó is one of the few Hungarian filmmakers to have earned a major international reputation over the past half century. Szabó's importance as a filmmaker lies not only in his attention to film's formal elements but in his deep and ongoing engagement with some of the most urgent ethical and existential questions of our time.

With detailed analyses of István Szabó's major films, from his 1960s works to his Academy Award for Best Foreign Film winner, Mephisto, and on through Szabó's last film in 2020, Final Report, Susan Rubin Suleiman focuses on four important questions pertaining to existential choice: to leave home or to stay in a communist country? To collaborate or not with an authoritarian regime? To affirm or to deny one's Jewishness in the face of antisemitism? To seek or to give up on community in the face of individual or national conflicts? Above all, Suleiman addresses the single most important philosophical question that haunts Szabó's work, as it does that of many other Central European intellectuals and filmmakers of our time. That is, how do individuals attempt, through the life choices they make or that are foisted on them, to create a viable self in extreme historical situations over which they have no control?

Praise for István Szabó: Filmmaker of Existential Choices

“Susan Suleiman's book touched me deeply and it was interesting even for me. I was surprised by several connections that I had never thought of, but they are very true.” ―István Szabó

“Drawing on her previous studies of exile and memory, and inspired by her own investigation of roots, Susan Rubin Suleiman's engagement with István Szabó's films presents a compelling and essential analysis of his continuing exploration of the themes of community, Hungarian-Jewish identity, and the individual's 'search for security'.” ―Peter Hames, author of Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition (2010), and Visiting Professor in Film Studies, Staffordshire University, UK

“Susan Suleiman's landmark book, István Szabó: Filmmaker of Existential Choice, brilliantly illuminates the neglected oeuvre of a major Academy Award-winning Central European director. Foregrounding Szabó's lifelong concern with the impact of historical forces on the fate of his protagonists, each chapter engages deeply with the urgent ethical and existential questions of our time.” ―Catherine Portuges, Founding Program Director and Founding Curator of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival, USA

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Daphne Kalotay
Daphne Kalotay

Daphne Kalotay

Published in 20+ languages, Daphne Kalotay’s books include the award-winning novels Russian Winter, Sight Reading, and Blue Hours, and two story collections: Calamity and Other Stories, shortlisted for The Story Prize, and The Archivists, winner of the Grace Paley Prize. A recipient of fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, MacDowell, and Yaddo, among others, she lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Photo credit: Sasha Pedro

Susan Rubin Suleiman
Susan Rubin Suleiman

Susan Rubin Suleiman

Susan Rubin Suleiman was born in Budapest and emigrated to the U.S. as a child with her parents. She graduated from Barnard College and obtained her Ph.D. at Harvard, where she went on to a long and distinguished career as a professor of French and comparative literature. Suleiman has published more than a dozen scholarly books, including Crises of Memory and the Second World War and The Némirovsky Question: The Life, Death and Legacy of a Jewish Writer in 10th Century France. She is also the author of autobiographical works, including the acclaimed memoir Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherboo (1996) and its sequel, Daughter of History: Traces of an Immigrant Girlhood (2023), which was a finalist for a 2024 National Jewish Book Award. Suleiman has won many honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 1990, she received the Radcliffe Medal for Distinguished Achievement, and in 2018 she was awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’Honneur. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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