Winning an Oscar is a monumental achievement for any film, let alone one from Hungary. Director István Szabó’s euphoria at the 1982 ceremony, where he received the award for “Mephisto,” remains unforgettable. In the 2010s, László Nemes’s “Son of Saul” and Kristóf Deák’s short film “Sing” also earned accolades. Yet, in recent years, even an Oscar nomination seemed out of reach for Hungarian cinema. That may change this year as Hungary nominates the animated film “Four Souls of Coyote” for the Best International Film category.
The National Film Institute of Hungary, which financially backed director Áron Gauder’s project with a 14 million forint grant, announced the film’s nomination for the 96th Academy Awards set to take place next March. “Four Souls of Coyote” has already made its festival rounds, garnering multiple awards at the Kecskeméti Animation Film Festival in Hungary. More significantly, it has received international recognition, winning jury prizes at the Annecy International Film Festival and Best Animated Film at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
According to the institute’s rules, each country can nominate one film for the Best International Film category, released between December 1, 2022, and October 31, 2023. Members of the NFI Film Professional Decision Committee, along with international sales director Csaba Bereczki and other renowned professionals, selected “Four Souls of Coyote” among 19 other contenders.
The film is considered more compatible with the Oscars than previous nominees like “Post Mortem” and “Blokád,” as well as the recently released historical drama “Hadik,” which didn’t receive rave reviews. The central characters in “Four Souls of Coyote” are Native Americans, and one of the film’s key themes is environmental degradation—both timely and globally relevant issues. The storyline follows a ruthless corporation planning to build an oil pipeline through ancient indigenous lands, while revealing the magical creation story of the indigenous people with the protagonist Coyote at its center. The film was co-created by Áron Gauder and writer Bereményi Géza, featuring voices from a talented cast, including Péter Bozsó, János Papp, and Gerda Pikali among others.
The NFI also announced that “Four Souls of Coyote” will debut on Filmio, the institute’s official streaming service, on September 21. Whether the film will be among the five nominees will be revealed on January 23, 2024. The 96th Academy Awards ceremony is scheduled for March 10 of next year.