'Son of Saul' Director Says Oscar Could Be a "Poisoned Gift"

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Laszlo Nemes

Laszlo Nemes said he would put the Oscar in a display case "and hopefully I won't see it every day."

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Winning an Oscar could be a "poisoned gift" and it will take a great effort to avoid being crushed by the honor, the director of the Hungarian film that won this year's Academy Award for best foreign-language film said Wednesday.

Son of Saul director Laszlo Nemes said he would put the Oscar in a display case "and hopefully I won't see it every day."

"It can be a poisoned gift, but if we handle it with skill it won't crush us," the helmer said after returning to Budapest from Los Angeles. "Wisdom and luck are needed for this, but maybe I'll never make a normal film again."

Nemes said that concentrating on one person, a Jewish prisoner forced to dispose of victims in a Nazi death camp, was important to him to "understand the individual." The film follows Saul Auslander as he tries to give a religious burial to a boy who may have been his son.

Steven Spielberg told him that Son of Saul greatly contributed to the collective memory of the Holocaust and that he hadn't expected that it would take so long after his 1993 drama Schindler's List to make such a film.

Geza Rohrig, who has received much praise for his portrayal of Auslander, said the Oscar ceremony "was a near clinical case of idiocy."

"It's not my world," said Rohrig, adding the volunteer seat fillers used to ensure there are never any empty seats during the ceremony "looked like a long line at the Lenin Mausoleum."

Nemes said his next film, Sunset, set in Budapest in the 1910s, would be in Hungarian, but he was planning to develop several projects at once, including films in other languages.

"My secret plan is to make a world-famous actress out of a young Hungarian woman," said the filmmaker. "But let's not tell anyone."

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