I watched the film Son of Saul directed by László Nemes
on 7th May, shortly after its UK release. 
 
The film moved me deeply, and so I felt compelled
to create a personal response to it, in the form of a letter to the director.
The film follows Saul Ausländer, a Sonderkommando in a concentration camp
— these were the Jewish workers tasked with effectively killing their own kind.

In the Shoah, they were the only ones aware of the fate that awaited them.
They were also progressively eliminated after a few months.
The film is his journey:
a striving for humanity in the midst of unfathomable horror.

The relentless march of death is shown in very close framing
— the camera is always either behind the main protagonist, or facing him —
and most of the action is signified by a masterful use of sound and movement hors-champ.
Mr Nemes based him film on We Wept Wihtout Tears, a book by Gideon Greif,
which is a compilation of interviews of surviving Sonderkommandos.
 
One day, upon cleaning the gas chambers,
Saul discovers the body of a young boy whom he is convinced is his son.
He then endeavors to keep the body from medical dissection, and to give him a proper burial.
While the film itself affected me,
I quickly became aware that there was another element that resonated with me
— it was a Hungarian film.
While I am Hungarian by birth,
I have been living abroad since the age of 5.

With this nomadism comes a relatively diluted sense of identity,
and the homeland seems like it could be
everywhere and nowhere.
 
I noticed that Mr Nemes had gone through a similar sort
of inte
rnational journey, and this intrigued me. 

This is also why I chose to write the letter in three languages
English, French and Hungarian.
The first part — Soul,
focuses on the impressions of the film that most struck me.
As a spectator, I find it increasingly rare in contemporary cinema
to find a film that speaks to me without condescension;
and this film foregoes all assumptions — it trusts the audience to engage.
In addition, it reminded me of the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Ingmar Bergman,
in that one can feel within the film the humanity of the people creating the movie.

There is an overwhelming sense of kindness that is very noticeable, and perhaps
this is what makes the film so memorable, despite the very difficult subject matter.
The second part — Identité, is a meandering on the search for the self,
through the multiple places in which one may live.
 
It also addresses the notion of cinema being the home that remains throughout 
— the one where one does not feel like a foreigner in their own country.
The third part — Igazságmeans truth,
and it is a more direct call to action, an offer to contribute;
as well as being a presentation of my character
— of myself in relation to this viewing experience. 
The language order is also a process of revelation —
from the language which I master the most: English,
to the language in which I feel most vulnerable: Hungarian.
 
Arguably, being confident in a particular language is a weapon of sorts,
and so it was interesting to dwell in a form of communication
that is unadorned, and essentially meant to connect.
The book has been designed in square format
— this is to echo the fact the film has been made in 35 mm.
 
Mr Nemes chose to actively desist from digital film, and chose something
rather more tangible, tactile, and almost alive, to serve the story.
 
This is why also for me it was primordial to create a printed copy of this letter
— something that is equally real.
The focus is strongly typographical,
with a soft grain on some pages, echoing the physical noise of celluloid.

The colour palette has been predominantly inspired by the colours of the film.

Personal calligraphy and photography works that best represent
the content of each part of the book have been included to denote the different sections.
The book has been printed through the wonderful people at Ex Why Zed in London.
 
While it was written in a frenzied few days, and subsequently constructed in a couple of weeks,
I am very grateful to all the people who provided feedback and comments,
notably Paul Mason-Barney who also took these beautiful pictures of the final product.
Many thanks for reading -- 

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