During the shooting of the film ”Son of Saul” Ildi Hermann, photographer took portraits of the actors in the movie including the international cast and the extras as well based on the concept of László Nemes Jeles, the Director and Mátyás Erdély, Cinematographer.

Ildi Hermann, “About-face”: Portraits from the shooting of the film ”Son of Saul” 

These photographs were made at interim times on a peculiar borderline. The actors are not playing at the moment, but they have not taken their roles off and their roles have not left them either. They themselves and their film character have become one, they are looking into the camera. This way the portraits open up a path to the past, to the realm of the roles, at the same time they also exist in a created, constructed world, in the movie scene. Their uncommon power originates among others from the artistic capture of this duality. 

The exhibition consisting of thirty-one selected life-size portraits is complemented by three archive pictures, the negatives of which are kept in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. In one of the scenes in the film, one of the Sonderkommando soldiers through a door opening takes these few photographs which they fortunately manage to hide, just like it really happened in the summer of 1944.

In the exhibition we can also see parts from the texts written and hidden by Auschwitz prisoners and Sonderkommando soldiers. ”Dear Finder, look everywhere, in each pile of earth. Documents were buried by the dozen, mine and others’, too; these will shed light on everything that happened here.”

The creation of the photographs was based on the photo album entitled ”La grande terreur en URSS 1937-1938”. The deeply moving pictures in the book composed of portraits of people sentenced to death were taken a few hours before the execution of the sentence in many cases. The volume created as a result of the three-year research conducted by Tomasz Kizny, Polish photographer, is a milestone in the unravelling of this dark period of the 20th century.
The exhibition reflects on the film directly and indirectly by integrating into one unit the portraits taken during the film, the archive pictures and the original text passages. The photos were taken on the same type of 35 mm raw film that the film was shot on. Like mirror images the portraits are floating surrounding the visitors and not leaving a choice for them to remain as an outsider or to avoid eye contact.
By displaying the photographs of Ildi Hermann Mai Manó House has established an important project. The exhibition material: the portraits, the archive pictures and the accompanying documents put together by Gabriella Csizek, Curator, will be introduced in a lot of places in the whole wide world starting from Budapest using the set of tools offered by photography to facilitate intense remembrance and to contribute to raising awareness about the film both in Hungary and internationally.
(Gabriella Csizek, Curator)