‘Son of Saul’ wins Oscar for best foreign film

Ben Harris

Géza Röhrig as Saul in

Géza Röhrig as Saul in “Son of Saul.” (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

(JTA) — “Son of Saul,” the Hungarian Holocaust drama from first-time feature director Laszlo Nemes, won the Academy Award for best foreign language film.

Nemes claimed the prize at the annual Oscar ceremony Sunday night in Los Angeles.

“Even in the darkest hours of mankind, there might be a voice within us that allows us to remain human. That’s the hope of this film,” he said while accepting the first win for Hungary.

“Son of Saul,” which was partly financed by the Claims Conference, is the second straight Holocaust film to win in the foreign film category. In 2015,  “Ida,” about a young soon-to-be nun who learns her parents were Jews killed during World War II, won for Poland.

Set in Auschwitz in 1944, “Son of Saul” tells the story of Saul Auslander, a Jewish inmate forced to escort his fellow prisoners to the gas chambers and help to dispose of their remains. The title role is played by Geza Rohrig, a Hungarian poet and observant Jew who now lives in New York.

The film was heavily favored to win the Oscar, having already claimed the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May and the Golden Globe for best foreign film in January. On Saturday, it won the prize for best international film at the Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles.

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