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“And, for the first time in 35 years, the Oscar goes to…..”
Hungary has been submitting films for the Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Foreign Language Film every year since 1965. During this time, Hungarian films have been nominated for this Oscar nine times, but only István Szabó’s Mephisto won the Oscar in 1981.
And now, in 2016, Son of Saul has taken the grand prize after a hiatus of 35 years. Son of Saul is a Hungarian drama film directed by 39-year-old László Nemes Jeles. It is set in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, and follows 36 hours in the life of Saul Ausländer, a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando (Nazi death camp prisoners, usually Jews, who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust).
The film has garnered rave reviews since its premier at the May 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix. It also won first-place awards at 25 major film festivals and award events, including the Golden Globe Award (a first-time winner for a Hungarian film), several Cannes Film Festival awards and an award for Best Sound.
While Nemes Jeles and co-writers spent several years on research, funding for the project was difficult to come by due to the film’s unconventional approach and Nemes Jeles’ lack of experience in directing a feature film. After potential co-production partners in France, Israel, Germany and Austria turned down the project, the €1.5 million budget was finally advanced by several Hungarian sources.
In Hungary, the film was released in June 2015 and sold more than 142,000 tickets, making it the highest-grossing domestic film released since Üvegtigris 3 in 2010. Son of Saul is now showing with English subtitles at several theaters in Budapest; check the internet for locations and showtimes.
5 cinemas to go to watch Son of Saul with English subtitles:
Photos: couchpotato.com, oscars2016awards.com, oscar.go.com, Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times