Film-maker Peter Hegedus grew up in socialist Hungary and overdosed on American movies and the values he thought they promoted: truth, justice, and hope for a safer world. But twenty years later, he wonders whether the America of his dreams ever existed. From the streets of Tehran to Tiananmen Square and from the refugee camps of Africa to the White House, MY AMERICA follows Peter on a six-year quest to find out what happened to the America of his childhood.
Australian-Hungarian film-maker, Peter Hegedus embarks on an epic six-year journey across four continents to explore his relationship with the America of his childhood.
Peter grew up in socialist Hungary. His parents divorced and he was bullied at school. He escaped into cinema and overdosed on Hollywood action movies. His favourite action hero was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wide-eyed and desperate for his own salvation, young Peter absorbed what he thought were the values these movies promoted: truth, justice and the hope of a safer world. Peter dreamed that one day he too would make movies, and join his American heroes, fighting for a better world.
But when America invades Iraq, Peter begins to doubt the America he once believed in. Was his America reality or childhood fantasy?
Looking for answers, Peter seeks out his childhood hero: Terminator turned Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger whose faith in America has never waned. Peter follows Arnie's trail from his birthplace in Austria all the way to the Governor's office in California. But to little avail. From the sanitised innocence of Disneyland to the chilling experiences of public school kids in South Central Los Angeles, Peter is dismayed to find that life beyond the bright lights and the glitz of Hollywood raises more questions than answers.
Just as Peter's dream is fading, Barack Obama emerges onto the scene, promising what the movies of Peter’s childhood promoted: hope, justice and a safer world. Peter's faith in America is re-ignited. Obama’s America is his America. And Peter has a role too. With the help of his stepfather, Peter builds a flimsy portable booth so he can gather messages for the President from concerned people around the world.
Peter travels across five continents gathering messages to take to the White House. Along the way he meets Presidential nominees, Hollywood executives, American political and economic forecasters, Wall Street bankers, as well as a psychiatrist who suggests that if Peter wants to find out what happened to his America, he needs to examine his own personal history.
In the end it is the ordinary people Peter’s encounters and his own insights about his family history that bring him closer to the truth, particularly his relationship with his father and his grandfather, the controversial communist Prime Minister who called in Russian troops to put down the Hungarian Uprising in 1956.Like Peter, his grandfather dreamed of a better world, but he failed to deliver.
Rich with action-packed Hollywood movie clips, iconic archival footage and retro comic book animation, My America is a powerful interplay between the personal and the political. Tapping into a widespread public fascination with America, like the best personal quests this film is whimsical and quixotic yet serious and deeply affecting.