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The world premiere of a film about the life of Ignaz Semmelweis was held in New York City on Monday evening at the Museum of the Moving Image, on the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

At the screening, director Lajos Koltai noted that he did not want to make a scientific film, but to show the man, Ignaz Semmelweis, who found his own path and followed it to achieve his goals.

Tamás Lajos, producer, Csenge Palotai, Director of the New York Liszt Institute, director Lajos Koltai, Csaba Káel, Government Commissioner for Film, and actor Miklós H. Vecsei (L-R). Photo via MTI/NFI

On the occasion of the world premiere in New York, Minister of Culture and Innovation János Csák emphasized that Ignaz Semmelweis’ journey is an example. He noted that

Semmelweis can be said to have saved the lives of millions of people in the same way as Katalin Karikó, who recently won the Nobel Prize.

Ignaz Semmelweis. Photo via Wikipedia


Ignaz Semmelweis (1818 – 1865) was a Hungarian physician and scientist of German descent, who was an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures, and was described as the “savior of mothers.” Postpartum infection, also known as puerperal fever or childbed fever, consists of any bacterial infection of the reproductive tract following birth, and in the 19th century was common and often fatal. Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of infection could be drastically reduced by requiring healthcare workers in obstetrical clinics to disinfect their hands. The maternal mortality rate dropped from 18% to less than 2%, and he published a book of his findings, Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever in 1861.

Csaba Káel, Government Commissioner and President of the National Film Institute, said that

the Semmelweis film was an excellent opportunity to showcase a Hungarian talent and tell his story around the world.

There is great international interest in the film, even more enhanced by the fact that in recent weeks, Hungarians have been awarded two Nobel Prizes. “If you think about it, Semmelweis’ discovery was of such importance in his own time that it would have been worth a Nobel Prize, if such a recognition existed at that time,” he stressed.

Káel added that Adolf Zukor would have been very proud to see a Hungarian film premiere in New York, referring to the fact that the Museum of the Moving Image, hosting the premiere, is located next to Kaufmann Studios, the former New York production base of Paramount Pictures, founded by Adolf Zukor.

Photo via Facebook/Semmelweis

The film was attended by ambassadors from more than 20 countries, from Namibia to Germany and Australia. Special guests at the event were Courtenay Rattray, Chef de Cabinet of the UN, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Stewart Simonson, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), who described the film as an important opportunity to bring the figure of Semmelweis closer to a wider audience and to show how fundamental his work was to the whole field of medicine.

The story of Ignaz Semmelweis is of great importance not only in Hungary but throughout the world.”

The romantic historical drama explores the life and work of Hungarian obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis. The doctor defied conventional theories in his quest to conquer one of the most devastating diseases of the 19th century: puerperal fever. Semmelweis also fought against the authorities, who did their utmost to protect their power from the consequences of the Hungarian doctor’s discoveries.

This romantic, twisty film evokes the atmosphere of 19th-century Vienna, the life-and-death tragedies of the hospital, the irresolvable conflict between Austrian and Hungarian doctors and the agonizing longing for love.

The film will be screened at the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles on October 27. It will be released in Hungary on November 30.

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The movie was shot in the House of Terror Museum in Budapest.Continue reading

Via MTI, Featured image via Facebook/Semmelweis

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