Nobel puts spotlight on Kertesz

Dispatch

BUDAPEST — Four decades of literary obscurity ended for Hungarian writer Imre Kertesz when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in October. His selection also triggered a flood of offers from movie producers keen to bring his award-winning novel “Sorstalansag” (Fateless) onto the silver screen.

A bleak coming-of-age story based on Kertesz’s boyhood experience in Auschwitz, “Fateless” reportedly garnered offers from Hollywood before the Hungarian government stepped in and pledged to underwrite a domestic production to the tune of $4 million; insiders say pic’s budget probably will plateau at $8 million.

Kertesz might have scored a better deal with Hollywood, but he says he agreed to the Hungarian deal to keep the production in his homeland. Hollywood cinematographer Lajos Koltai (“Max,” “The Emperor’s Club”), who is Hungarian-born, will direct.

When Kertesz, 72, received his prize in early December, casting and pre-production of the pic had already gotten under way in Budapest. Principal photography is scheduled for early 2003.

Kertesz was given the nod from the Nobel committee in recognition of an oeuvre dedicated to the exploration of the Holocaust, and the reactions of the individual living in a totalitarian regime.

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