Journey Home is a documentary film about two sisters who try to find out what their father did as a freedom fighter during the Hungarian revolution of 1956. The story unfolds as the women take their father’s ashes from the U.S. to Hungary to fulfill his dying request to be buried in his native land, a place to which he never returned after fleeing in 1956. The journey veers off course when the sisters realize that their father’s role in Hungary’s uprising was never really questioned – and never really documented.
Maybe it never happened.
Taking place in Budapest a half-century after the fateful events that took nearly 3,000 lives and forced more than 200,000 Hungarians to emigrate, Journey Home documents László Pigniczky’s daughters as they take a personal – sometimes disturbing, sometimes humorous – trek into the history of 1956. Armed only with their deceased father’s vague anecdotes and their own curiosity about the past, they try to piece together the puzzle of their father’s role in Hungary’s seemingly futile battle against the Soviet Union.
The sisters research their father’s story at the Hungarian secret service archives, interview surviving ‘56ers who might have known and fought with their father, consult with historians, and physically try to retrace their father’s footsteps from the first days of the revolution, through the street fights of early November, until his escape through Yugoslavia to the United States.
They find out far more than they hoped for, although their father’s story takes a number of unexpected turns along the way. By the end of the film, his journey home has become their own emotional journey to understand their father and the events that shaped both his life and their own upbringing.