Cannes: Hungarian Film Fund CEO Praises 'Son of Saul' Grand Prix Win

'Son of Saul'

Agnes Havas says the film's recognition shows that fears the fund would fail to support the art house projects the central European country is famous for have not been realized.

Hungary's Grand Prix win at Cannes for Laszlo Nemes' haunting Holocaust film Son of Saul vindicates the approach of the Hungarian Film Fund, which underwent fundamental reform four years ago, the organization's CEO said Monday.

Agnes Havas told The Hollywood Reporter that fears that the fund, headed by Budapest-born Hollywood producer Andy Vajna, would fail to support the art house projects the central European country is famous for, have not been realized.

"The Grand Prix at Cannes is a great achievement for the fund and for Hungarian cinema and the entire central European region," Havas said.

The film, which was picked up for U.S distribution during Cannes by Sony Pictures Classics, was part of the "shared history" of countries that suffered from the war and genocide and demonstrated that Hungary was facing up to its past, she said.

Hungary began the war as an ally of Nazi Germany but was occupied by German forces in 1944 after its government secretly began to seek a separate peace with the Allied powers. Tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were rounded up and sent to Nazi death camps late in the war as Soviet forces pushed westwards.

Nemes' debut feature, which focuses on the experiences of one man, a member of a concentration camp Sonderkommando — a group of prisoners forced to work for the Nazis helping to load corpses of gassed inmates into cremation ovens — does not flinch from its subject matter.

Recognition at Cannes meant that a Hungarian film was not just being talked about in Europe, but "worldwide" Havas said.

She added: "It proves that the fund is supporting and developing young talent and is starting to flourish; last year White God won Un Certain Regard and the year before The Notebook took the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary. These are not crossover or commercial films."

She added that Hungarian cinema audience figures for domestic films were increasing; more than 107,000 people saw Karoly Ujj Meszaros' Liza the Fox Fairy after its release last February.