Son of Saul gets the Oscar

2015 LUX Prize finalist Son of Saul has finally reached the summit by taking home the Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film. Last Sunday, the Hollywood victory of Laszlo Nemes’ unflinching film was the icing on the cake for its incredible journey: it was revealed in competition at Cannes, where it took home the Grand Prix, before going on to pocket a plethora of accolades, including a Golden Globe for Best Foreign-language Film.

“Thanks to the Academy for this incredible honour (…) Thanks to Hungary for funding this film. I want to share this with Geza Rohrig, my lead actor, and the incredible cast and crew that believed in this project when no one else did,” said Laszlo Nemes as he accepted the award. “Even in the darkest hours of mankind, there might be a voice within us that allows us to remain human. That is the hope of this film.”

The Hungarian movie – which follows around a prisoner working in a "Sonderkommando" at Auschwitz, who is desperately trying to give his son a proper, religious burial – was vying for the statuette against four other movies, including 2015 LUX Prize winner Mustang, by Deniz Gamze Ergüven (which received no fewer than four César Awards on Friday evening, including Best First Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay – read the news). Colombia’s Embrace of the Serpent, Denmark’s A War and Jordan’s Theeb rounded off the candidates.

This win constitutes the third time that a LUX Prize-selected film has received the Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film, after Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty (2013 LUX Prize official selection) and Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida (2014 LUX Prize winner).

In fact, all three triumphs were achieved in a row: the last three editions of the LUX Prize proved to be a more-than-accurate compass for the success of European films during the US awards season. Not only is the European Parliament initiative getting great results on this side of the pond, by using cinema as an ideal vehicle for debate and reflection on Europe and its future, but it also is on the other shore, by endorsing films that achieve worldwide visibility for Europe’s cinematic inquisitiveness and curiosity.

We will work hard to repeat the feat with the 2016 edition of the LUX Prize – and congratulations, Laszlo Nemes