'Son of Saul' Takes Top Prize at Zagreb Film Festival

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. 

During the nine-day festival, a total of 109 films were screened at six locations.

Hungary's contender for the foreign-language Oscar, Laszlo Nemes' gripping and spartan Holocaust drama Son of Saul, took the top prize  at the closing Saturday of the 13th edition of the Zagreb Film Festival.

The Golden Pram award — so-called as the festival concentrates on debut features — came with a $4,250 cash prize.

The jury at the festival, Croatia's leading international film showcase, said the film — a hot favorite to win the Academy Awards' foreign section — was an "extraordinary and shattering masterpiece."

There were special mentions for Danish film A War, by Tobias Lindholm, and Australia's Tanna, by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler.

During the nine-day festival, a total of 109 films were screened at six locations. The international competition included 13 features and 10 short fiction films, and the Croatian competition in the Checkers section screened 11 films. Apart from the main program, the festival also had 12 special programs.

A total of 59 foreign guests including Slavek Horak, director of Czech Oscar candidate Home Care, attended the festival.

British producer Mike Downey, the festival's artistic advisor and deputy chair of the European Film Academy, told The Hollywood Reporter: "Zagreb's 13th edition has proven to be a lucky one … certainly for Son of Saul, which moves on its path towards the Academy Awards by picking up the best film prize."