Sony Classics Back in Foreign Language Oscar Hunt With Hungary’s ‘The Notebook’

The company has acquired North American rights to the WWII drama, which is on the Academy’s shortlist

Last Updated: July 10, 2014 @ 7:34 PM

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American rights to “The Notebook,” the Hungarian entry for Best Foreign Language Film.

SPC has won the last four foreign-language Oscars in a row, and it went into this year’s race with three films thought to be among the frontrunners. But India opted not to submit “The Lunchbox,” and when Iran’s “The Past” and Saudi Arabia’s “Wadjda” didn’t make the Academy’s shortlist, the company found itself surprisingly out of the running.

Now SPC is back in the hunt with one of the nine shortlisted films, which will be viewed on Jan. 10-12 by special committees that will pick the five nominees.

Unsettling, tough and haunting, “The Notebook” is directed by Janos Szasz, shot by Oscar nominee Christian Berger (“The White Ribbon”) and produced by Intuit Pictures in association with Hunnia Filmstudio, Amour Fou and Dolce Vita Films.

Also Read: Oscar Foreign Language Shortlist: ‘The Hunt’ and ‘The Great Beauty,’ But Not ‘The Past’

Adapted from Agota Kristof’s bestselling novel of the same name, “The Notebook” received the top prize at the 2013 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, where it had its world premiere. The film had its North American premiere at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.

Ulrich Thomsen (“The Celebration”) and Ulrich Matthes (“Downfall”) star in the film, which Sony Pictures Classics acquired from Beta Cinema.

Set during the final years of WWII, “The Notebook” tells the story of 13-year-old twins abandoned by their parents and forced to live with their cruel grandmother in a village on the Hungarian border. Studying the evil surrounding them, the twins learn to harden themselves and rely on their loyalty to one another, ultimately surviving in the face of challenging circumstances.

“To make this movie was a wonderful and a painful journey for me, like a time machine, took me back into the war time. The jungle of fear and immorality,” said Szasz.

Also Read: Oscar’s Foreign Language Chair Promises Big Changes After This Year’s Awards

“We have wanted to buy this film following its successful showings at the Toronto Film Festival. We have never really seen a movie quite like this. Based on a famous European novel, ‘The Notebook’ portrays the World War II experience as a Grimm fairy tale brimming with darkness and foreboding evil. It is fresh, brilliantly told by director Janos Szasz with stunning cinematography by the great Christian Berger. It is great to collaborate again with Dirk Schuerhoff and Beta Cinema with whom we have shared success in the past,” said Sony Pictures Classics in a statement referring to “The Lives of Others,” “The Counterfeiters” and “In Darkness.”