Accreditation
 
European Film Academy - Young Audience Award 2016 v Bratislave
Tuesday 19.04.2016

European Film Academy - Young Audience Award 2016 v Bratislave

Martin Žiaran, ASK
Tuesday 29.03.2016

Martin Žiaran, ASK

Fridrik Thor Fridriksson
Sunday 20.03.2016

Fridrik Thor Fridriksson

Bartosz Konopka
Wednesday 16.03.2016

Bartosz Konopka

EFA master class with Paco Delgado
Tuesday 08.03.2016

EFA master class with Paco Delgado

 

Son of Saul

The soul of cinema

We will open this year´s VFF with a Hungarian film - a debut feature by Laszló Nemes – Son of Saul. This film started out small but then caught the attention of audiences and achieved worldwide success. Its premiere at Cannes Film Festival 2015 was a successful and a bit controversial start of the film´s journey which led to winning the Grand Prix. Recently, it has become the second Hungarian film to receive an Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film and the first one to win a Golden Globe. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the production designer László Rajk.

 

"Nemes’s film has found a way to create a fictional drama with a gaunt, fierce kind of courage – the kind of courage, perhaps, that it takes to watch it."

The Guardian

Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, a group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the rest of the camp forced to assist the Nazis with large-scale extermination. Working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers a corpse of a boy he takes for his son. While the Sonderkommando is planning a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and provide the boy with a proper burial.


"Son of Saul develops a powerful edge from the sheer devastating nature of its events, while resisting even the slightest overstatement. Only one quiet shot near the end points the material in a surprising direction, but even when the action abruptly shifts from Saul's point of view, the nightmare hasn't ended."            

Indiewire

Nemes was inspired by a book by eyewitnesses entitled Des Voix sous la cendre (Voices from beneath the Ashes), also known as “The scrolls of Auschwitz.”, which he discovered during the shooting of the Man from London in Bastia. The book was written by former Sonderkommando members from Auschwitz-Birkenau who buried and hid their written testimonies before the rebellion in 1944. At this point Nemes decided to make a film about it. As he said: "Our aim was to take an entirely different path from the usual approach of historical dramas, their gigantic scope and multi-point of view narration. This film does not tell the story of the Holocaust, but the simple story of one man caught in a dreadful situation, in a limited framework of space and time."


"Saul" is kind of a beginning of a new approach to sets. At the beginning, there were the movies by [D.W.] Griffith and "Ben-Hur" and "Cleopatra." They built huge sets. The director saw it, the actors saw it, and the audience saw it. The next period are when people are jumping around in a green box so that the actor doesn't see any of the set, the cinematographer doesn't see anything of the set — but the audience does. They are the only ones who see the whole set. "Son of Saul" is the reverse of that. The director sees the set, the actor sees the set, but the audience doesn't see. But that proves the complexity of what a movie is: They don't see, but they understand.”

László Rajk, production designer

This is an unusual approach to the topic of the Holocaust and the filmmakers also chose a very particular style of shooting to go with it. 

Cinematographer Mátyás Erdély uses long and detailed shots of of Saul´s face and back (with a big red cross), the background is blurred to the viewer almost all the time. We only hear the noises of a total mess and hell. Filmmakers also decided to shoot on 35-mm film – they did not use digital cameras. “It was the only way to maintain a certain instability in the images, and thus be able to film this world organically. The challenge was to strike an emotional chord in the audience – something that digital doesn’t allow for,“ said Nemes.

The screening of Son of Saul during VFF 2016 will be thanks to 


Cast Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont, Jerzy Walczak, Gergö Farkas, Balázs Farkas| Directed by László Nemes| Written by László Nemes, Clara Royer| Produced by Krisztina Pintér, Gábor Rajna, Gábor Sipos, Judit Stalter, Robert Vamos| Cinematography Mátyás Erdély| Editing Matthieu Taponier| 107´ |Hungary| 2015