It seemed inevitable yet still came as a surprise: Hungary brought home its second Best Foreign Film Academy Award last night after the highly lauded Son of Saul won in that category. Accepting the award, director László Nemes gave this brief but moving speech: “I want to share this with Géza Röhrig, my main actor, and the incredible cast and crew that believed in this project when no one else did," he said. "You know, even in the darkest hours of mankind ... there might be a voice within us, that allows us to remain human. That’s the hope of this film. Thank you very much, thank you."
The film has been called the best Holocaust-themed film since Schindler’s List, with some critics calling it the best Holocaust film ever. With wins at Cannes, the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards, and now the Oscars, this represents a spectacular achievement for the film-makers and the world of Hungarian film. Though Hungarian films have been nominated eight times for the award in the past, this is the first win since István Szabó’s now classic Mephisto took home the prize in 1981.
The story of Son of Saul revolves around a ‘Sonderkommando’ at one of the Auschwitz crematoriums who is charged with burning the bodies of his people, and tries to maintain a moral foothold by giving a burial to the body of a child he believes to be his own. Filmed in Hungary, it has become an international hit, one that will only be propelled to greater heights by this phenomenal Academy Award win. We at Flatpack Films join all of Budapest, Hungary, if not the world, in sending huge congratulations to the makers of Son of Saul.