‘Son of Saul’ is ‘Compelling and Astounding’


“We wanted to give dignity to the dead. The story of the Holocaust is not the story of the exceptions who survived. It’s the story of the dead.” 

“You can feel the society being haunted by these traumatic experiences and by never having to face what happened.” — László Nemes in an interview with The New York Times

Reviews for SON OF SAUL, the winner of the Grand Prix Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, have been universally glowing, as excerpted below. What’s more, Hungary recently selected the film as its submission for the Oscar® race for Best Foreign Language Film. HIFF is honored to have director László Nemes join us for the first screening at the Festival on Friday, October 9. Tickets are on sale now.

Director László Nemes and lead actor Géza Röhrig visited NPR’s Fresh Air today. The interview is almost as astounding as the film.

“The most iconic face of this year’s Cannes Film Festival did not belong to Emma Stone or to Cate Blanchett… nor to Ingrid Bergman… it was the sunken, haunted face of Geza Röhrig, the 48-year-old star of one of the festival’s most acclaimed films, the Hungarian Holocaust drama SON OF SAUL.” — Forward

“The opening of SON OF SAUL is one of the best moments in Holocaust cinema ever.” — What Culture

“Any first feature that manages to land directly in the competition in Cannes has done something right, and the rookie writer-director here takes a well-known cinematic subject, the Nazi concentration camps, but distills his narrative to the story of just one man.” — The Hollywood Reporter

“I can’t remember a recent debut with the power of László Nemes’ SON OF SAUL.” — RogerEbert.com

“The film finds a mesmerising centre in Röhrig’s performance, which combines unsettling vacancy with primal intensity, and certainly precludes the identification that too often provides the viewer with facile catharsis in such dramas.” — Screen Daily

“Compelling and astounding. It’s the rare film that grabs your attention from the first few seconds and never lets go.” — NOW Toronto

It’s so visceral and so intimate that it’s hard to put into words.” — Hitfix 

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Son of saul

Winner of the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival and Hungary’s submission for the Oscars®, SON OF SAUL is the monumental debut feature from Hungarian director László Nemes. Saul Auslander (Géza Röhrig) is a Jewish-Hungarian prisoner in Auschwitz and a member of its Sonderkommando (the body disposal team). With a haunting opening scene that lingers on Saul’s ashen face, his journey through the inferno is transfixing and, ultimately, a poignant danse macabre. When he discovers the body of a boy among the corpses he risks everything to save the corpse from cremation and find a rabbi to recite Kaddish and give him a proper burial. With tightly lensed cinematography, Nemes skillfully recreates the claustrophobic, dehumanizing atmosphere of the camp and its unsettling banality of evil.

Friday, October 9: 3:30 pm, Guild Hall
Monday, October 12: 1:30 pm, Sag Harbor Cinema