Klaudia Kovacs is a multi-award winning, Hungarian-American Film and Theater Director who works in Hollywood. At the age of 19, she arrived in the United States alone, not speaking English, and with only $200 in her pocket. Today—after directing Oscar “Best Documentary” competitor and eight-time award winner Torn from the Flag, accepting an invitation to present her film to the United States Congress, and being declared “the most successful Hungarian documentary” by the press—she has 35 awards to show for her hard work.
Immigrant Magazine (IM): How did you achieve so much success in show business?
Klaudia Kovacs (KK): With a tremendous amount of labor and lot of persistence. When I first moved to the USA, I was making $5 an hour as a babysitter, and I struggled for years while waiting for someone to give me an opportunity. But that only happens in the movies…
IM: So what did you do?
KK: At one point, I went from feeling completely disheartened to deciding to take matters into my own hands and make my first film.
IM: How did you find financing for Torn from the Flag?
KK: I was a poor immigrant, so I had to find a way to locate enough money for the budget. First, I created a community of 20,000 people, and then I gathered 2,000 investors, donors, in-kind donors, and 50 non-profits, and I turned the docu-thriller into the North American Hungarian community’s largest project ever. I crowdfunded $1.7 million with my community, and luckily, the film ended up receiving an exceptionally favorable response from the public, media, academics, and professionals.
IM: What is Torn from the Flag about?
KK: My picture is about the Cold War, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and the struggle for freedom with which so many people identify including Americans, Europeans, and most other ethnicities.
IM: I understand there are a lot of famous people in the film…
KK: Yes, the film is quite high profile. I made the documentary with Oscar-winning Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and legendary cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs. Also, Otto von Habsburg, the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, is in the picture along with William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning Political Scientist and Author, Mark Kramer, Historian and Program Director of Harvard University’s Project of Cold War Studies, and George Vassiliou, former President of the Republic of Cyprus. Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Prize-winning former United States Secretary of State was also interviewed for Torn from the Flag.
IM: How can we see this successful film?
KK: After being screened at 21 film festivals, people can now see the film in the comfort of their own home on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/tornfromtheflag
It’s also available in Hungarian, under the Hungarian title, A lyukas zaszlo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/alyukaszaszlo
IM: What happened after the fame of your first project became so wide-spread?
KK: It was certainly a game changer when the movie was declared to be “the best documentary ever made about this topic.” Torn from the Flag became an educational tool in high schools and universities. Many colleges and libraries purchased it, including the Los Angeles Public Library, which serves the largest population in the United States. This was really important to me, as I’m a big fan of accessible quality education and community support. My hope for the future is that the Hungarian government will also purchase Torn from the Flag for all the public schools in Hungary.
IM: What are you working on these days?
KK: I’ve helmed several plays and movies since Torn from the Flag. Currently, I’m developing a couple of film and theater projects while I’m working on Legacy Documentaries which are created as a film-legacy for any entity—individuals, families, companies, non-profits, artists, geographic regions, schools, etc.—that understands the power of a 30- to 60-minute movie that focuses on paying homage to and celebrating the accomplishments of the film’s “star.” If anyone wants to get a picture made about them, this is the page to go to: http://klaudiakovacs.com/legacy-documentaries
IM: Thank you Klaudia for the interview, and Immigrant Magazine wishes you continued success. Please keep us posted about your future endeavors.
KK: Thank you kindly, and I certainly will!