Golden Globes: Hungary Celebrates First-Ever Win for 'Son of Saul'

Hungary: 'Son of Saul,' Laszlo Nemes
Sony Pictures Classics

This debut feature about one man's hellish journey through a Nazi concentration camp has received raves ever since it debuted in Cannes, both for its dramatic storyline and for its groundbreaking, subjective visual style. The film from the director who used to work for Bela Tarr is perhaps the only foreign-language entry considered a lock for an Oscar nomination. 

The country's prime minister calls Golden Globe nod a 'unique Hungarian success' as local critics predict Oscar victory.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has praised Sunday's Golden Globes win for Son of Saul, the first ever for a Hungarian film.

"Wow! A unique Hungarian success! I convey my heartfelt congratulations to Laszlo Nemes and all the creators and actors of Son of Saul,Orban wrote on his official Facebook page about the harrowing drama, in which a Jewish Auschwitz concentration-camp prisoner desperately attempts to give a gassed young boy a decent burial. 

The prime minister, who oversaw a fundamental shake-up of the national film subsidy system, praised Budapest-born Hollywood producer Andy Vajna, head of the Hungarian National Film Fund.

Vajna added: "We congratulate the director and his team; we are very happy to have created a movie that has attracted this much attention worldwide. It is a special honor that Son of Saul is the first Hungarian film that has won a prestigious Golden Globe award." The producer also recalled his experience winning a Golden Globe in 1997 for Evita, saying such moments "last forever."

In his Globe acceptance speech, Nemes reflected on the need to continually revisit the story of the Holocaust in film.

"The Holocaust has become over the years an abstraction. For me, it is more — a face, a human face. So let's not forget that face," he said after receiving the statuette.

Hungarian industry insiders say hope is building that Son of Saul will go on to win the Oscar for best foreign-language film next month.

Geza Csakvari, a film critic for leading Hungarian broadsheet Nepszabadsag, told The Hollywood Reporter that "the crew and Sony were putting all their energy into [Son of Saul 's] U.S campaign."

He acknowledged the film fund's role in backing the movie, but argued that the current Hungarian government policy of supporting both art house and commercial films was proving a failure.

In 2015, the fund supported 15 films, which achieved a total of fewer than 500,000 admissions between them. Nearly a fifth of those admissions were for Son of Saul.

Csakvari said that one of those films, Veszettek (Homeguards) — a crime-action drama with a political twist by Just Sex and Nothing Else director Krisztina Goda — had received "930 million forints ($3.2 million) from the film fund, but less than 8,000 admissions. Ouch." He added that the sum was nearly three times the subsidy Son of Saul received.