Back in February, Screendaily reported the news that the Hungarian Film Fund would contribute €5m funding to the production of Sunset, the next film from Son of Saul (2015) director László Nemes. Considering the success of his Oscar-winning debut, it is unsurprising that the Film Fund is willing to back his second feature so heavily. Son of Saul grossed $1.7m dollars at the box office (versus an estimated $1.6m budget) and was praised by most critics, so no doubt Sunset will see a wider distribution in order to recoup its production costs and capitalise on Nemes’ growing reputation in Europe.
Initially set in Budapest in 1915, Sunset tells the story of Iris (to be played by Son of Saul actress, Juli Jakab), a young woman who leaves the orphanage in which she grew up to move to New York to find work as a seamstress. She heads to a ladies hat store that belonged to her parents and there she meets Oszkar (Vlad Ivanov), their former associate, and learns of some family secrets. Although it will be difficult to match the shock of his first film, setting Sunset during World War I will allow Nemes to base Iris’ very personal story in a conflict that has ramifications across the world, in the same way that Saul searches for his own child within Auschwitz, where countless other men, women and children were slaughtered.
Nemes is teaming with writers Clara Royer, who co-wrote Son of Saul, and Matthieu Taponier, who worked on it as a script consultant and film editor. Mátyás Erdély, the Hungarian cinematographer responsible for those astounding over-the-shoulder shots in Son of Saul, completes the reunion for Nemes’ second film.
Budapest-based Laokoon Film Group is handling production of Sunset, with international sales set to be taken on by Films Distribution, the French company which also handled Son of Saul.