LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The searing Holocaust film “Son of Saul” is one of five foreign-language movies nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
The Hungarian movie is also an early favorite in the foreign-language Oscar race, which includes entries from 81 countries.
In “Son of Saul,” the character of Saul Auslander is a member of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau who is forced to cremate the bodies of fellow prisoners gassed by the SS. In one corpse, Saul believes he recognizes his dead son.
As the Sonderkommando men plan a rebellion, Saul vows that he will save the child’s corpse from the flames and find a rabbi to say Kaddish at a proper funeral.
Saul is portrayed by the Budapest-born Geza Rohrig, the founder of an underground punk band during Communist rule. Moving to New York, he studied at a Hasidic yeshiva and graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary. The film was funded in part by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Another entry bearing on the Holocaust, the German film “Labyrinth of Lies,” failed to make the cut. Set in the post-war 1950s, when most Germans preferred to deny or ignore the Holocaust, “Labyrinth” focuses on a young German prosecutor determined to bring the Nazis who ran Auschwitz to trial before a German court.
The winners will be presented at the usually wild and unpredictable Golden Globe ceremony on Jan. 16.
Winners and nominees, picked by a small group made up of members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, gain publicity but none of the prestige reserved for Academy Award winners.
Recognizable Jewish names among Golden Globe nominees include writer Aaron Sorkin, nominated in the Best Screenplay category for the film “Steve Jobs.”