“I share this with my actors, incredible cast and crew who believed in me and the project when no one did,” Nemes said in his acceptance speech. “Even in the darkest hours of mankind there might be a voice within us that allows us to remain human. That is the hope of this film.”
Earlier, Nemes complained that the Holocaust had become an “abstraction” over the years. “For me, it’s more of a face we must not forget,” he said.
Nemes’ first feature film – which was supported by the Hungarian National Film Fund – shows filmgoers the Nazi death camps from the perspective of a Sonderkommando member, a Jewish prisoner forced to work in the gas chambers and crematoria. In the film, Saul Auslander goes to great lengths to give a dead boy, whom he calls his son, a proper burial.
Andrew Vajna, Hungary’s film industry commissioner, said the award was “a huge success” that “all Hungarians can be proud of”. It shows that “if you have a good idea and you are willing to work hard for it then you, too, can succeed,” he added.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán congratulated the movie on his Facebook page, saying that this is “a great day for Hungarian filmmaking. Thank you to everyone”.
“Son of Saul” was also recognised as the Best International Film at the Independent Spirit Award in Los Angeles on Saturday. It was only the second time that the independent filmmakers selected a Hungarian film to be in the final five, the first being István Szabó’s “Hanussen” in 1990.
Earlier “Son of Saul” won the Grand Prix and the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) prize in Cannes, and it took the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film in Los Angeles, among many other prizes.
The film almost didn’t make it as an Oscar nominee. Pete Hammond, the awards columnist for website Deadline Hollywood, has noted that the drama was not among the Foreign Language committee’s six choices for the shortlist. It was instead added as a “save” by the executive committee, which was formed a few years ago to avoid embarrassing omissions.
RTL Klub secures TV premiere
Based on an agreement with the producers, commercial network RTL Klub will broadcast “Son of Saul” first in Hungary. The date of the premiere has not been scheduled but RTL said it will be in the second half of 2016. The film is planned to air without interruptions for commercials.