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”.
Today Budapest is very different because it has been touched by all that western democracy brings: opportunities, wealth.... and poverty. Part of the EU for a few years now, Hungary still has a long way to go to catch up with Western Europe. “But I love going back to Budapest now,” says Peter. “America’s influence is palpable but there’s also so much nostalgia. I love speaking the Hungarian language and all the smells remind me of my childhood. In 2012, I am taking my own young family to live there for six months.”