Places

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

In what he describes as ‘repressed Beijing’, Peter found that Generation Y in China has no memory or knowledge of Tiananmen Square.  His translator Jianlan points out that she was only five when the incident occurred and that it is a ‘taboo’ topic in China.  She has clearly not been taught about the Chinese Government’s brutal crackdown on student protesters in 1989, and, as Peter notes, the Chinese authorities do not allow their own people to use Facebook or Google to discover their own past or the present outside world. Control of the media, especially social media interactions with the outside world, goes some way to keeping their Gen Y in the dark about past (and almost certainly present) human rights abuses. The celebrated ‘Tank Man’ who attempted to block a phalanx of tanks clearing Tiananmen Square is a hero to millions of TV viewers and Internet users around the world but is unknown to Peter’s Chinese peers.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is the capital of Hungary and it features in two of Peter’s other documentaries. It’s the place he was born and the place he spent his childhood. The place where his grandfather called in Russian troops to put down the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. In the 1970s, when Peter was a small boy, Hungary was a communist country cut off from the free world but in the years before the Iron Curtain came down Hollywood movies made the American lifestyle and the American Dream an aspiration for many Hungarians. “I think,” says Peter, “that those movies prompted people in Hungary and across the eastern block to dream of a better world, of personal freedom and the opportunity to choose who and what we might want to be, not restricted by the state or the sociopolitical circumstances into which we were born. Looking back it’s no surprise I grew up with such affection and longing for America”.

Los Angeles, USA

Los Angeles, USA

Peter spent time with his brother-in-law Kevin Lum in South Central L.A., where Kevin was a middle school teacher. Kevin wanted him to see another side of LA, far from the glamour of Hollywood. In a class of 13 and 14 year-olds, some 75 per cent Kevin’s students had seen someone shot. Peter found it intense. “There’s poverty and big fast food franchises everywhere. That’s what people eat. I found South Central a depressing place, oddly reminiscent of Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Very alien. Very different to Brisbane. You feel like you’re in a gangster movie but five minutes’ drive later, you’re in Malibu.” Find out who Peter meets here.

Sacramento, USA

Sacramento is the capital city of California. During the production of ‘My America’, it was home to the offices of Arnold Schwarzenegger who was serving as Governor of California from 2003 to 2011. Peter attempted to meet the Terminator-turned-Governator on numerous occasions. Peter says that while he thought it was a very pretty little place, the gap between rich and poor was quite evident. “What struck me most was that there were so many homeless people,” he says.

Tehran, Iran

Tehran, Iran

With a population of 8.5 million, Tehran is the largest city in Western Asia, the 19th largest city in the world and the capital of Iran. It was one of several places we visited that Peter felt were experiencing upheaval or on the brink of some kind of change.


An Islamic Republic run by Islamic conservatives, Iran is a flashpoint for international relations and has an uneasy, suspicion-laden relationship with the west, the USA, Israel and with some of its close Muslim neighbours. Shiite Iran and Sunni Iraq still have a prickly relationship after the Iran-Iraqi war which lasted nearly 8 years (September 1980 - August 1988) and became the longest conventional war of the 20th century.

Brisbane, Australia

Peter's Home Town

The third largest city in Australia, Brisbane is currently Peter Hegedus’ hometown. Peter moved to Brisbane when he was 14. He has a lot of affection for Queensland’s capital. “It’s changed a lot over the years. I think of Brisbane as ‘the town that will be LA one day’. There’s a story on almost every street corner. Brisbane’s climate and lifestyle is reflected in its residents’ behaviour. It’s a very friendly place to live and to visit.

Greenwood, USA

Greenwood, USA

Greenwood is located in the Lower Piedmont region of the US state of South Carolina. The local council says it provides a “friendly, small-town setting along with the progressive and active environment of a larger city”. Peter travelled to Greenwood to meet Iraqi War veteran Jesse Odom, who fought alongside the first American soldier to die in the 2003 Iraq War. Peter spent several days with Jesse and his family, going fishing and finding common ground with the US Marine. He showed Jesse’s family and friends some of the messages for the US President that he had filmed around the world. “I really wanted to find out what ordinary American families – and people my age like Jesse and his brother and friends – felt about the expectations that people around the world have of America and the American President.”

New York City, USA

New York City, USA

The Big Apple needs little introduction! In ‘My America’, Peter Hegedus travels to New York because he wanted to investigate - in what is arguably the ‘financial capital of the world’ - why the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) happened. It’s in New York, he discovered the US national debt clock seemingly hidden from view just off the Avenue of the Americas. The clock was stuck on 11 trillion, 397 billion dollars but even at the time of shooting, the true debt was an awful lot higher. Culturally, Peter thought the city a ‘huge melting pot’, a city of many different races and cultures.

Sydney, Australia

The largest city in Australia, famous for its waterfront lifestyle and iconic landmarks like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Sydney is too busy for Peter’s liking. In ‘My America’, it was the first location where he set up his booth to record messages to the US President from citizens around the world. Peter quickly discovered that Sydneysiders didn’t really take him seriously.  Happy to whip up a party atmosphere and wish President Obama well, they didn’t seem to understand the serious intent of what Peter was trying to do.

UNHCR Refugee Camps, Dadaab, Kenya

UNHCR Refugee Camps, Dadaab, Kenya

Every week, thousands of asylum seekers flee war and famine in Somalia and travel across the desert into the arid township of Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya. Established in the early ‘90s, the UNHCR camps in Dadaab were meant to house about 90,000 people...temporarily. Nearly 20 years later and with on-going conflict in Somalia, the camps have continued to grow. Three camps, (Ifo, Hagadera and Dagaheley) now house more than 500,000 officially recognised refugees and hte numbers grow daily.


Peter describes what has become one of the largest refugee camps in the world as “Horrific... You can describe Dadaab with all the clichés about suffering that you’ve heard before,” he says. “but I felt really uncomfortable as a white guy turning up with a camera and filming people. There’s just so much poverty, hopelessness and injustice. I wanted to help but I just didn’t know how. I felt really over-whelmed. I am still in touch with the man my age who showed me around the camp, Abdikadir Farah Omar and I am really thankful that the crisis in the Horn of Africa – war and famine - is receiving the media attention it desperately deserves.” Find out what you can do to help here.

SCREEN AUSTRALIA & SCREEN QUEENSLAND PRESENT A SOUL VISION FILMS PRODUCTION A FIREFLY PRODUCTIONS production IN ASSOCIATION WITH FRESH WATER PICTURES & SBS
Written & Directed by PETER HEGEDUS Produced by JANE JEFFES Executive Producer TRISH LAKE Co-writers MARK O’TOOLE, JANE JEFFES, TRISH LAKE, AXEL GRIGOR, ROBERT PERRIER Film Editor AXEL GRIGOR Original Music CAITLIN YEO
Co-Producers AGNES BODNAR for BIG TURTLE, ANDRAS MUHI for INFORG STUDIO Animation MIKOS FALVAY, KEDD ANIMATION STUDIOS, BUDAPEST Producers PETER HEGEDUS, JANE JEFFES, TRISH LAKE

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