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Strudel Sisters
Ilona and Erzsébet are sisters living in the small Hungarian town of Tura. They make "big strudels on small tables" in much the same way their beloved mother did when they were children during the communist era. What starts as an ode to a disappearing way of life quickly becomes a beautifully harmonic anthem to sisterhood, freedom, mothers and, of course, strudel.
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Strudel Sisters

Running Time
7 minutes

Strudel Sisters

Ilona and Erzsébet are two elderly sisters who have baked traditional Hungarian
strudel together all their lives. The film explores the quirks of their enduring
friendship and how their family survived during the extreme poverty of the
communist era. It offers a deeply personal insight into the sisters’ family life,
including a strong connection to their dear mother, who taught them everything
they know. It also provides a window into the history and local traditions of the
small Hungarian town of Tura. While we learn about the art of strudel-making,
the real discovery of this film are the two big-hearted women who, despite
their differences, can’t live without each other.

Filmmaker Notes:

Making Strudel Sisters has been a profound experience for us both.

Peter, as a native Hungarian now living in Australia, has always had an insatiable appetite for strudel pastry. As a documentary lmmaker, he has long considered the idea of capturing the story of traditional strudel-making, a delicate art now in decline.

Jaina’s partner also happens to be of Hungarian descent, so he is familiar with Magyar culture and customs. Given this connection, Strudel Sisters seemed to be the ideal opportunity for us to collaborate. In September 2015 we travelled to Tura, a village about an hour’s drive from Budapest, to make the lm together.

Meeting Ilona and Erzsébet, the ‘Strudel Sisters’, for the rst time was a joyful experience – and not just because they offered us three kinds of strudel! Their warmth, kindness and genuine affection for each other were just as irresistible as the delicious pastry. Since we knew that the sisters were eager to pass on their knowledge of strudel- making to future generations, we felt so privileged to be the ones documenting this important tradition.

The other thing that immediately struck us was the sisters’ devotion to their mother, who taught them to make strudel in their early years. The sadness of her passing when the sisters were only teenagers endures to this day. It is the multi-layering of emotion that makes this story so remarkable – while on the surface it appears to be about the delight and magic of strudel-making, it is in fact a tragic family history about the oppression suffered under the communist regime.

Ilona and Erzsébet are sure to capture your hearts, just as they did ours. For us, the emotional impact of Strudel Sisters is best conveyed by the sisters’ beautiful singing, which connects them to the past and signi es their longing for their beloved mother, the one who taught them how to love, how to live and how to make strudel.

Film details
Year(s) screened
  • 2016
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