Son of Saul: Survival in a “Sonderkommando”
by Fabien Lemercier
- Currently in post-production, the feature debut by László Nemes, produced by Laokoon Filmgroup, immerses audiences in the hellish Auschwitz camp in 1944
Having turned a lot of heads with his short films (With a Little Patience, which won 25 awards worldwide and was nominated for the European Film Award in 2008; The Counterpart, which was honoured with ten prizes; and The Gentleman Takes His Leave, which was recognised at the Hungarian Film Week in 2010 for its direction and cinematography, as well as winning other trophies), Hungarian filmmaker László Nemes is currently putting the finishing touches to the post-production of his feature debut: Son of Saul [+see also:
Q&A: László Nemes
interview: László Rajk
film profile] (Saul fia). Immersing the viewer in the horror of Auschwitz in 1944, the film is toplined by author and poet Géza Röhrig (who is making his big-screen debut), Levente Molnar (who made a splash in Morgen [+see also:
film profile]) and German actor Urs Rechn (Run Boy Run [+see also:
film profile]). They are joined by Todd Charmont, Sandor Zsoter, Christian Harting, Uwe Lauer and Kamil Dobrowolski. Interestingly, the talented Mátyás Erdély (Delta [+see also:
interview: Kornél Mundruczó
interview: Orsi Tóth
film profile], Tender Son - The Frankenstein Project [+see also:
film profile], Miss Bala) served as DoP.
Written by the director together with Clara Royer, the story recounts two days in the life of Saul Auslander, a Hungarian prisoner working in a “Sonderkommando”, a special commando unit assigned to one of the Auschwitz crematoriums. After he comes across the body of a boy he believes to be his son, he attempts to do the impossible: snatch the body and find a rabbi to conduct a proper burial. While the Sonderkommando could be disposed of at any moment, Saul turns his back on the surviving members and their plans for rebellion in order to save the remains of his boy, whom he failed to take care of while he was alive.
Produced by Gábor Sipos (European Film Promotion’s Producer on the Move 2009) and Gábor Rajna for Laokoon Filmgroup, Son of Saul benefitted from support from the Hungarian Film Fund, the Cannes Festival’s Cinéfondation Residence, Sarajevo CineLink and the Jerusalem Film Lab, among other sources. Distribution in Hungary and international sales are still being negotiated.
(Translated from French)
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