Corralled with other Hungarian Jews onto a train to Auschwitz in 1944, 14-year-old Gyorgy Koves (Nagy) endures deprivation and harsh treatment at the hands of his Nazi captors, who move him to a hellish work camp where even some of his fellow Jews look down on him for not speaking Yiddish. After months of misery and near-starvation, he survives the liberation, only to experience a ghostly, dreamlike homecoming in war-scarred Budapest.
Why we love it
Based on the autobiographical novel by Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertezs, Koltai's coming-of-age drama "Fateless" examines the Holocaust through the eyes of a child who of necessity grows up fast, trying all the while to make the best of the worst situation. Graced with a swelling score by Ennio Morricone, a haunting performance by Nagy, and impressionistic visuals (Koltai is a veteran lensman), "Fateless" is a richly powerful, stubbornly unsentimental meditation on Jewish identity.