“…wholly absorbing and poignant documentary…” ”…illuminating film.”
Kevin Tomas, Los Angeles Times
““Superior documentary…” ”…well crafted…” ”Definitely deserves TV exposure…”
Ronnie Scheib, Variety
“Leave a record. Preserve the facts. “There Was Once ...” serves that function precisely.” “…a worthy document…”
David DeWitt, The New York Times
Michelle Orange, The Village Voice, LA Weekly
“…unusual, quietly understated but deeply affecting...”
George Robinson, Jewish Week
“…achingly beautiful…“ “Mago is an incredible woman and through her we see how one person can make a difference…” “The teaming of Mago and Kalman is genius and together they give us a beautiful film…”
Amos Lassen, Reviews by Amos Lassen
“Mago and Kalman relate tragic family histories with sensitivity and insight.” “…definitely recommended…”
Joe Bendel, JB Spins
“…a moving account of discovery, memory and setting up safeguards.”
James van Maanen, Trust Movies
““There Was Once … starts out like a teacher’s history lesson about a vanished past, but turns into a detective story as memories collide, old photographs and documents link to living witnesses, and, worse, a nightmare starts to repeat.
Nora Lee Mandel, Film Forward
“Theo Alexopoulos’ motion graphics breathe life into what just a few years ago would have been old pictures on a copy stand
Rika Ohara, Bluefat
“A compelling, provocative story”
Cynthia Kane, Programming Manager, ITVS International
David Feingold, Assistant General Manager, Net Television
"There Was Once ... is a beautifully crafted and affecting film that reminds us how the past continues to live in the present and the importance of remembering."
Mark Jonathan Harris
Distinguished Professor School of Cinematic Arts, USC
"Gabor Kalman's new documentary film is a masterpiece based on the meticulous reconstruction of two incredible, intertwining stories. The film presents the destruction of the Jewry of the Hungarian city of Kalocsa in 1944 and follows how a gentile teacher from a later generation carefully and systematically succeeds in unearthing that incomparable Jewish-Hungarian tragedy. Gabor takes us back to his hometown Kalocsa where none of the Jews are to be found who once formed a vibrant and productive community and who perished in the Hungarian Holocaust. The emphasis of this beautiful film, however, is increasingly on how this young teacher gradually realizes what had happened several generations ago and tries to teach the lessons to her own students in a Kalocsa school and to the larger community of the town today. A deeply moving, unusual, and poetic vision of the Holocaust and how it survives in the minds of Hungarian people, young and old, who go back with a time machine to the bygone world of Atlantis, a world so irreal and unimaginable, and yet so threateningly reawakening today."
Tibor Frank, PhD
DLitt, Visiting Professor of History Columbia University
"At a moment when educators and school librarians around the country are fighting for their jobs, here, finally, a gifted filmmaker shows the difference one good teacher can make. Gabor Kalman's endlessly surprising new film is a testament to the power of dynamic storytelling -- whether on a screen or in a classroom -- to raise the dead."
"It feels urgent-as well as elegiac and scary, and hopeful"
Janet Sternburg, Author
"It is subtle, powerful, poignant and disturbing"
Andrew Solt, Director
"…haunting and beautifully made…it should be an inspiration for educators in terms of their responsibilities."
Professor, Faculty of Art
"an incredible film on every level…the layers and layers of reflections and experiences are truly the best way to counter fascist thought I know of…Thank you so much for making this beautiful film"
Professor of Comparative Literature
"I thought the movie was terrific-- a wonderful story well told...it shows your loving commitment and connection. Great work!"
Doe Mayer Professor
USC School of Cinematic Arts
“There is historical truth and there is artistic truth. When the two meet in one work, it is a rare and happy event.”
Marianna D. Birnbaum
Prof. em. UCLA
“…haunting, evocative” “After a week now many scenes continue to play out in my mind, something I can say about few films I have seen this year”
Holocaust Studies Librarian
University of Southern California
Doc Talk/Film, Festival Today
“[a] deep and elegant film”
"it lifts your spirits knowing that amongst all the bad there are a few wonderful people like Gyongyi…I am sure Kalocsa is proud of her."
"mesmerizing … I was truly taken with it. …whomever did the music was a genius"
Playwrite - Screenwriter
"szivemre szoritott kézzel, könnyeimmel küzdve jöttem el. Nagyon szép, igazi-a szó legjobb értelmében, igazi documentum filmet csináltál. Finom, mély, érzékeny de nem érzelgős és valódi volt."
"I thought the film was beautifully made and very moving; liked the score a lot and kiss your editor for me."
Screenwriter - Director
"What an outstanding film - heartbreaking, yet exceptionally inspiring."
"Truthful, deeply moving, tragic but never sentimental. I would love to see it again"