Home » World premiere of the Semmelweis film held in New York

World premiere of the Semmelweis film held in New York

by Stewart Cole

A film about the life of Ignaz Semmelweis had its world premiere in New York on Monday night at the Museum of the Moving Image, on the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

In the screening, director Lajos Koltai notes that he did not want to make a science film, but to show the man, Ignaz Semmelweis, who found his own path and followed it to achieve his goal.

Tamás Lajos, producer, Csenge Palotai, Director of the New York Liszt Institute, director Lajos Koltai, Csaba Káel, government film commissioner and actor Miklós H. Vecsei (LR). Photo via MTI/NFI

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

Ignaz 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 German-born Hungarian physician and scientist who pioneered antiseptic procedures and was described as the “savior of mothers”. Puerperal infection, also known as puerperal fever or puerperal fever, consists of any bacterial infection of the reproductive system after birth and in the 19th century was common and often fatal. Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of infection could be drastically reduced by requiring health workers in maternity 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, Meaning and Prevention of Childhood Fever in 1861.

Csaba Káel, government commissioner and president of the National Film Institute, said that

the Semmelweis film was a great opportunity to highlight a Hungarian talent and tell his story around the world.

There is great international interest in the film, further enhanced by the fact that in recent weeks Hungary has been awarded two Hungarian Nobel Prizes. “If you think about it, Semmelweis’s discovery was so important in his time that it would have deserved a Nobel Prize if there had been such recognition at the time,” he stressed.

Csaba Káel added that Adolf Zukor would be very proud to see a Hungarian premiere in New York, referring to the fact that the Museum of the Motion Picture, which is hosting the premiere, is next door to Kaufmann Studios, the former New York production base. Paramount Pictures, founded by Adolf Zukor.

Photo via Facebook/Semmelweis

Ambassadors from more than 20 countries, from Namibia to Germany to Australia, participated in the film. Special guests at the event included 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 Ignaz Semmelweis closer to a wider audience and to show how fundamental his work was to the entire field of medicine.

The story of Ignaz Semmelweis is of great importance not only in Hungary but in the whole 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. Ignaz Semmelweis also fought against the authorities, who did everything they could to protect their power from the consequences of the Hungarian doctor’s discoveries.

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

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

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Via MTI, Featured image via Facebook/Semmelweis

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