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Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has praised the 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 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 world-wide. It is a special honor that Son of Saul is the first Hungarian film that has won a prestigious Golden Globe award,” Vajna recalled his experience winning a Golden Globe in 1997 for Evita, saying such moments “last forever.”
In his Globes' 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,” Nemes said after accepting the Globes statuette.
Hungarian industry insiders say that hopes are now building that Son of Saul may go onto to win an 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 the 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 support 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.
He added 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.”
The sum was nearly three times the subsidy Son of Saul received, Csakvari said.