Hungary has chosen Barnabás Tóth’s “Those Who Remained,” which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, as its official entry in the Oscars’ International Feature Film category. Variety’s reviewer described the drama as “achingly tender” and “an exquisite, poignantly performed tale.” Menemsha Films will release the film in North America.
Set in Budapest after the end of World War II, the film centers on the relationship between two Hungarians struggling to cope with the aftermath of the Holocaust. Aladár (Károly Hajduk) is a “gentle but haunted” middle-aged doctor, whose wife and sons died in the concentration camps; Klára (Abigél Szőke) – in furious denial over the loss of her parents – is a 16-year-old “force of nature,” who “storms her way into his life,” Variety film critic Alissa Simon writes in her review.
“[The film] taps into a deep well of honestly earned emotion as it tells the story of two traumatized survivors whose relationship helps them to heal and provides them with someone to live for,” Simon writes.
In her first leading film role, Szőke is a revelation, according to Simon. “She makes Klára’s energy, pain and smarts palpable, all the while being touchingly tuned to the emotional shadings of Aldó.” Veteran thesp Hajduk is “equally fine, giving heart-breaking nuance to what is a more interior-directed role.”
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Tóth and Klára Muhi cowrote the script, adapted from the 2004 novel by Zsuzsa F. Várkonyi.
The film is produced by Mónika Mécs for Inforg-M&M Film, with the support of the Hungarian Media Patronage Programme of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) and Duna Médiaszolgáltató. International sales are handled by the HNFF World Sales. The Hungarian National Film Fund is in charge of the film’s festival strategy.
The decision to select “Those Who Remained” was made by the Hungarian Oscar Committee, whose members include film director Ibolya Fekete, Hungarian Film Fund CEO Ágnes Havas, film distribution expert András Kálmán, university lecturer András Bálint Kovács, István Kovács, the Student Oscar winning film director, producer-director Pál Sándor, and film director Ferenc Török.