British-directed Auschwitz film takes second prize at Cannes

'The Zone of Interest' won the Grand Prix at the prestigious film festival


TOPSHOT - British director Jonathan Glazer pose with the trophy during a photocall after he won the Grand Prix for the film "The Zone Of Interest" during the closing ceremony of the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 27, 2023. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)

(JNS) Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest” won the Grand Prix award at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on Saturday. 

The film written and directed by 58-year-old British Jewish filmmaker Jonathan Glazer centers on the family of SS officer Rudolf Höss while he was the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp in Poland.

The story follows Höss and his wife, Hedwig, as they build their family life in a house and garden next to the camp where more than one million Jews and others were murdered.

It is loosely based on the 2014 novel by Martin Amis.

“The Zone of Interest” also received the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) and Cannes Soundtrack prizes at the prestigious film festival on Friday.

A six-minute standing ovation followed its world premiere at Cannes on May 19—the same day that Amis died in Florida at the age of 73.

“Thank you very much, Glazer told the crowd after the ovation. “I’m really overwhelmed by this. It’s a dream. To be a part of this with you, thank you.”

It has gotten critical acclaim, with Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman writing that it is “a remarkable film—chilling and profound, meditative and immersive, a movie that holds human darkness up to the light and examines it as if under a microscope. In a sense, it’s a movie that plays off our voyeurism, our curiosity to see the unseeable. Yet it does so with a bracing originality.”

U.S. producer and distributor A24 scored global distribution deals for Europe and Japan after the Cannes premiere. 

The German-language film stars Christian Friedel as Höss and Sandra Hüller as Hedwig.

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