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Photography by Christopher Beauchamp

Drama

We shot the dramatic portions of our film in Hungary, where our actors took their roles surprisingly personally as they learned about the real survivors they were portraying. You can read their comments below.

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The Survivors and the Actors


Kati Lábán /
Esther Stermer

“I read Esther’s original diary which helped me a lot to do this character. I didn’t know at the time how stressful and at the same time uplifting the shooting would be. I realized that this is not a feature film, it is a real story that actually happened to people who managed to survive after living in the cave for such a long time. The days I spent in the cave were very special and sometimes I could hardly hide my feelings, my emotions when I thought of the people living there in darkness and in fear.”


Balázs Barna Hidvégi /
Nissel Stermer

“When I first read the story, I was amazed at the power of these people to survive over 500 days in the caves. I am glad and very proud to get the chance to be Nissel Stermer in the movie, because he was one of the most important people in the cave for surviving. I enjoyed the shooting, it was a huge experience and adventure too. When we were down in the cave(s) and we crawled in the sludge or climbed into tight chambers we could feel something of what these people felt, even if it was only a tiny percent of it.”


Balázs Péter Kiss /
Saul Stermer

“When I got to know the story, it immediately started to interest me, how is it that a raging war destroys a world on the surface and creates another one deep under the ground. It was very exciting to learn about the fates of these people. Reenacting Saul’s character was an important professional challenge for me. When I got the part confirmed, my own life was at a difficult stage.  Getting deep into the story, learning how people did survive and overcome impossible situations, helped me become stronger and I realized by the end of the shoot that I am again full of energy and ready for new challenges.”


András Orosz /
Sam Stermer

When I went to the casting and was told that I could be a part of this film, I was thrilled. They told me the story and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Being down in a cave for this long and experiencing such things must have been terrible. During the shoot we could experience what they went through, how they lived in that era in those desperate conditions. I wouldn’t want to be in their situation! I wouldn’t have been able to survive those circumstances.

At first, it was hard to play Sam’s role but in no time I got into it, thanks to Janet and the crew’s help. I’m very delighted that I don’t have to live in a war or in a dictatorship.


Nora Kovacs /
Yetta Stermer

It was a real privilege to be the part of this touching movie, even though it was a hard task both physically and mentally to describe this gruesome situation, when we couldn’t even imagine those terrible conditions. But fortunately the cast was very professional and helpful to dig deeper into the details. I’m extremely glad that I got this role because I found out what a hard time that was and how valiant the people were in the past.


Dániel Hegedűs /
Sol Wexler

“When I went to the casting conversation I already felt that the story of The Cave was really close to me, although I was aware that I was just one of the many kids who applied. When I got the role, I read through the script many times so that I could understand who was who in the story. The story of Sol Wexler, whose role I acted, was very special and touching. He lost his mother and brother during the persecutions, and he had to overcome a lot of obstacles alone to survive. Janet Tobias often talked to me about the story and her encounters with the original characters. After the shoot I searched the internet and found further details, photos and stories about the Ukrainian cave and the survivors. The shoots were very exciting thanks to the special scenes, the Aggtelek dripstone cave, the stables in Szentendre and the forests in Slovakia, as well as the extreme weather conditions, the shoots on cold winter days and in the summer heat.”


Fruzsina Pelikán /
Sonia Dodyk

“This is my first role. On the shoot it was really really cold down the cave. We spent days down there, but the assistants gave me warming pads to put into my boots to make me feel more comfortable. It must have been really cold for them to live here for many days. Since then I do not play under the bed because it rings a bell…”


Mira Bonelli /
Sima Dodyk

“I can’t believe it that she [Sima] had to stay two years in the cave…I don’t know where she slept — on uncomfortable stones… I can’t believe she did that! She was really courageous.”