Forgotten Hero – a screenplay / film scenario

A view of a contemporary area of Jastrzębie, Szeroka. At the bottom of the screen: “Jastrzębie Zdrój, Szeroka, 2007” A sunny day. There are children playing and elderly people standing in front of their houses. A close-up of two people releasing pigeons. The camera follows the birds flying over Szeroka. A part of initial subtitles / info / credits appears. One pigeon separates from the others. The camera focuses on it. The bird flies into a house through its window.

Efrem’s house. The pigeon is settling on the window sill. On a shelf there is a menorah. The shelf is next to a bed on which an around 80-year-old Jew, Efrem, is sitting (he is grey-haired, wearing glasses, with Jewish facial features). He’s looking at / into /through a photo album. He sees the pigeon and smiles.
EFREM: (after a while he takes a small piece of bread out of a drawer and crumbles it and puts it on the window sill) Here you go, eat… (the pigeon starts eating)
Efrem looks into the album.

EFREM: (smiles) Can you see that one? (points out / indicates a photo of Sławik) This here is Henryk Sławik… a great man, a hero, you can say… thousands of Jews, like me, live thank to him….But now not many remember, one can say he’s been erased from memory.
Light dimmed. Credits and title on the screen.

The view of a devastated block of flats / building. At the bottom subtitles: “Katowice, 1939”.
NARRATOR: Are you listening to me? Good! …. I found out about Sławik during the war. It was exactly October 1939. It was a horrible time, especially for people like me… That’s why I decided to meet my good friend , Asaf.
A camera from the inside of the building. Efrem (younger with black hair) knocks on a door. After a while the door opens. Efrem shakes hand with a tall man who invites him in. A view from Asan’s flat and description of the flat itself.
Efrem and Asaf sit down by the table.
ASAF: Good that you’ve come. I have some information for you concerning our leave to Hungary…
EFREM: This is why I’m here.
ASAF: We’ll be travelling in a stock carriage with other Jews also looking for asylum in the south. Our destination is Budapest. You don’t need to worry about any documents. They will be fixed by Henryk Sławik – a Pole that has recently left for / come to Hungary. He works for the Polish government so there shouldn’t be any problems. Look, this is him (he’s handling a photo of Sławik) and this is his address (handling a piece of paper while Efrem is still looking at the photo)
NARRATOR – OLD EFREM: When I saw him for the first time, I got the impression he was a decisive, trustworthy man – he had something of a good father in him.
ASAF: We’re leaving tomorrow morning at 6, train no 42.

Efrem together with Asaf and other Jews are sitting in a train carriage, full of cows. Noise of numerous conversations in Polish and Jiddish. One can also hear psalms and occassional mooing. Efrem and Asaf sitting in the corner.
EFREM: Asaf, are you sure this train’s going to Hungary? So many hours and we haven’t arrived yet…
ASAF: Easy, easy. I think there are about 10 kilometres left to the border. ( a sudden whistle. The train stops. All freeze in fear. Outside, voices speaking German)
GERMAN: What’s in this carriage?
INSPECTOR: (frightened) Cattle…
GERMAN: We’ll see. (to other Germans) Quick. Open the carriages.

View on the train. The Germans open each carriage and check it thoroughly.
The train showed from the inside. The Jews have frightened faces. The Germans get inside and start shooting. Some people hit the ground. An officer orders to lead the rest (among them Asaf and Efrem)outside. Shocked Jews are loaded / put on lorries and go off.

A map of Slovakia with a close-up on the town Koszyce. Then the camera shows the lorry entering a forest.
A view from the middle of the lorry. A close-up on Efrem sitting among other Jews and looking at the Germans. Suddenly the lorry brakes / stops. The Jews are disturbed, some of them lean outside.
GERMAN: (threatening gesture with the rifle) Quiet! Come back to your places. The first lorry driver comes out of the cabin(?) (a view from the front). Surprised looks at the obstacle. (complete silence).
GERMAN: Was ist das?
The camera shows a burning wreck, that blocks the road. Behind the driver’s other Germans appear, also surprised. A sudden noise. The driver pulls the gun and turns back. A shot and the Nazi falls down onto the ground.
GERMANS: Hinterhalt! The Nazi hide inside the lorry. A series of shots. Then one of the vehicles sets on fire, hit with a flame(?) bottle.
GERMAN: Hans, take those to your left! Gerhard, come with me!

The Germans respond with fire, aiming for hidden in a nearby forest partisans. In the meantime the Jews, using the opportunity, try to escape. One of the Germans turns back and raises gun at running Efrem and two other Jews. At the last second the Nazi is hit by a series of shots/bullets. The Jews vanish among trees without looking back.

At the bottom of the screen: “The headquarter of German army, Slovakia”. A German comes in.
GERMAN: General! We haven’t been able to contact the special unit for some time. They don’t answer out calls. The last time we tried was in/around Koszyce!
The camera shows the general sitting in an armchair.
GENERAL: Very strange… (picks up a handset and dials) Peter! Send some people to Koszyce! Be careful! Order / Execute! (The general throws the handset back).

Partisans with a group of Jews walk through a forest. Among them there is only Asaf, not a sign of Efrem. He falls over (potyka się) which causes a quite a loud noise of broken branches. He gets up slowly.
PARTISAN: Move quietly! One false step and we’re done for.
Suddenly, Germans attack from all directions and open fire. Shooting stars. The partisans are outnumbered but fight bravely. A view on this situation from Efrem’s eyes perspective. He sits hidden in bushes with other two Jews. The camera shows Efrem. Desperation / Despair in his face. The partisans loose, the fate seems to be clear/obvious. All partisans and Jews are dead. A view on Efrem’s face again. The Germans take their dead ones and their guns. They leave. Efrem runs to the dying fellows. He can hear a weak voice calling him. It’s Asaf.
EFREM: Asaf! No! You cannot die! You have to live and somehow we’ll manage to get to Hungary. I promise!
ASAF: This is my end, but you must remember – 32 Kinizsi street – Henryk Sławik… Asaf dies. Efrem can’t stop tears. He falls down on the ground and cries. After a while he gets control over his feelings and comes back to the other two Jews. Together they leave towards Budapest.

Night. A view on Efrem who walks around a stream. Together with his companions he looks for something.
NARRATOR – OLD EFREM: Unfortunately, one night one of us went to a nearby stream to get water and didn’t come back.
Day. A view on Efrem, who prays Kaddish with his friends over a fresh grave.
NARRATOR – OLD EFREM: The second of us dies two days later due to an infection. I stayed alone… The only thing I had was the address of a person who could help me.

A view of Budapest. The bottom of the screen says: “Budapest, December 1939’. Snow falls. Late evening. Efrem comes into a houses.(?) Carefully he knocks on the door. The door opens. Efrem sees Henryk Sławik.
EFREM: Hello. Are you Henryk Sławik? I managed to escape from Poland. I need your help…
SŁAWIK: Yes, it’s me. Come in, please…
Efrem comes into an office.

Sławik’s office.
EFREM: Thank you for taking me in. / (receprion?)
SŁAWIK: Not at all, this is what I’m here for… How did you get here? The last refugees from Poland were to have got here in October… The train was stopped by the Germans… The rescue failed too, because the Germans sent for help and nobody survived… (Sławik bites his lips).
EFREM: Three of us survived, but only I managed to get here finally. (he can’t stop his tears)
SŁAWIK: Yes, it is a cruel time… (after a moment of silence). You are exhausted. You must rest, eat something.

Sławik goes towards a cupboard and returns with a hot tea and a slice of bread). Here you go. (passes the tea).
Efrem starts eating.
SŁAWIK: I’ll try to get you some documents allowing you to spend the rest of the war here in Hungary safely.
EFREM: How can I tha….. –

Sudden knocking on the door interrupts his words. Efrem freezes from fear.
SŁAWIK: Be calm / Don’t worry… (makes gesture showing Efrem to hide).
Sławik goes to open the door. The camera shows a drunk man standing there.
DRUNKARD: Could you give me 2 forints for bread (he can hardly keep his balance).
SŁAWIK: Are you crazy? At this time? (he looks around and after that he gives him 2 forints).
SŁAWIK: Go away! (looks around again and closes the door).
SŁAWIK: You can come out now.
EFREM: (scared): Who was that?
SŁAWIK: Fortunately only some homeless guy/ beggar. I’ll have to come back home in a moment and so shall you. Go to my friend, Ryszard. He lives opposite site of the street. He’ll take care of you. Tell him I sent you… Of, yeah, take this money. (he gives some forints to Efrem). It isn’t too much but it will surely be useful. Come back for the documents in a few days.

Efrem wants to say something but Sławik puts his hand on his shoulder and looks in his eyes meaningfully. Efrem goes out…
NARRATOR – OLD EFREM: This is what my first meeting with Sławik was like. He put his life in danger to help people like us… He didn’t do it for money or fame… Simply from his heart. He and his friend Jozsef Antall.

Sławik in his office, behind a desk (with a pile of documents), drinks a cup of tea. After a while he gets up, looks through the window and comes to the door. There he meets Antall.
SŁAWIK: Jozsef! Come in!
ANTALL: (smiles) Hi. We have to talk about something.
Antall comes in. The men sit in the armchairs.
ANTALL: Henry, I’m thinking about building an orphanage and you’ll help me with it. I have even found a good place in Vac. (the picture changes into a map of Hungary and zooms in on Vac). There is a ruined / destroyed monastery (the map changes into the devastated building). First of all, we’ll have to gather the funds. (the view on Sławik counting money). Next, we’ll organise the purchase, repairing and that’s it – ready. (the picture of the ruined building, working people and the result of their effort – a tidy, nice place).

At the bottom of the screen “Vac, 1943”. A zoom in on a pretty building. The next view from the inside of the orphanage’s office. Antall and Sławik talk over a pile of documents.
ANTALL: Too much work…. I can’t handle it all!
SŁAWIK: You’re right, I’m tired myself…
ANTALL: You could do with an additional hand of someone who we could trust and would keep all the matters to himself… Perhaps even a person he has something to hide from the unfair power / government / officials.
SŁAWIK: I think I know such a person. Efrem, a Jew from Poland, who came to Hungary like me. Believe me, he is a trustworthy person. He would be ideal. He could deal with the orphanage finances as you have difficulties with it.
ANTALL: (smiles): You’re right. So, it is done then. Bring him as soon as possible…
Late evening. Ryszard’s flat. He plays cards with Efrem.
RYSZARD: And you loose again, Efrem…
EFREM: Don’t be so quick with the verdict. As long as the cards are hot… (?)
Sudden knocking.
RYSZARD: Who can it be at this time?... He gets up, takes his cards and goes to open the door.
RYSZARD: Henryk! I haven’t seen you for ages! Come in…
Sławik comes in.
RYSZARD: What brings you here?
SŁAWIK: I have a certain matter to your flatmate… (turns to Efrem). Efrem, take your coat, we’ll talk about it at my place.

Sławik lets Efrem into his flat. A big mass, plenty of various documents and valuables. Efrem in silence admires the paintings, jewellery and other things.
SŁAWIK: They are not mine. They’re charity gifts for the orphanage I run together with Antall.
EFREM: I heard from Ryszard… It’s good someone helps poor children. Perhaps I could be of help too?
Efrem is interrupted by a woman coming in with a 13 year old girl.
SŁAWIK: You haven’t met my wife, Jadwiga and my daughter, Krysia. Darling, (Sławik turns to the woman), this is my trusty (?) friend, Efrem.
JADWIGA: It’s a pleasure to meet you.
EFREM: Likewise…
JADWIGA: (coming out) I won’t disturb you. Henryk, the supper’s in a moment. (She leaves). Efrem doesn’t move.
SŁAWIK: (Breaking the silence) So, you’d like to help?
EFREM: I thought I could be useful… I don’t have any job and one has to earn his living.
SŁAWIK: It so happens that I need someone to run the finances and accountancy of the orphanage. The salary isn’t too good, though but…
EFREM: Don’t worry. I’ll take it with pleasure.
SŁAWIK: I knew I could count on you, my friend. Perhaps you can stay for the supper? Jadwiga makes great pierogi…
EFREM: Not today, Henryk. I have to go.
SŁAWIK: Let’s meet tomorrow. We’ll go to Vac.
EFREM: I’ll be here by 9. See you. (Efrem leaves).

Authors: Students class 2 Gim. ZS No11, Jastrzębie Zdrój