As the prizes continue to roll out here in Cannes, Hungarian helmer Laszlo Nemes’ harrowing Holocaust drama Son Of Saul has been awarded the FIPRESCI prize in the main Competition. The honor, handed out by the International Federation of Film Critics, comes a day ahead of the official prize ceremony. Son Of Saul is the only title by a first-time filmmaker in the Competition while Nemes was a Deadline Director to Watch this year. The film has sold well for Paris-based FilmsDistribution and was picked up for North America by Sony Pictures Classics.
Son Of Saul focuses on Saul Ausländer, a member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from Auschwitz in 1944 who were forced to assist the Nazis by cremating the bodies of the dead. Set over a day and a half, the film closely follows Saul as he discovers the corpse of a boy he believes is his young son and sets out to offer him a proper burial.
FIPRESCI also honored Un Certain Regard title Masaan by India’s Neeraj Ghaywan. Another debut feature, it’s set in Benares and recounts the intersecting paths of a group of diverse characters all seeking a better future, whilst buffeted between the demands of modern life and an attachment to tradition. Pathé International has sales.
Rounding out the trio of FIPRESCI awards today is Critics’ Week victor Paulina. Santiago Mitre’s Argentine drama was named the Grand Prix Nespresso winner in that section on Thursday. It centers on a young woman who gives up a brilliant career as a lawyer to dedicate herself to teaching in a depressed region in Argentina. It’s sold by Paris-based Versatile.
In other awards, the Ecumenical Jury gave its top prize to Nanni Moretti’s Competition entry Mia Madre. Moretti’s semi-autobiographical work tells the story of a female film director who is trying to make a movie amid chaos in her life provided in part by a teenage daughter, a formidable, ailing mother and a big-headed American film star (played by John Turturro). FilmsDistribution also has sales here and completed a U.S. deal with Alchemy a few days ago.
The Ecumenical Jury also gave special commendations to Competition pic La Loi Du Marché by Stéphane Brizé and Un Certain Regard title Taklub by Brillante Mendoza.