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Year: 1999
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 180 min
Director: István Szabó
Producer: Robert Lantos, Andras Hamori
Executive Producer: Rainer Kölmel, Jonathan Debin
Writer: István Szabó, Israel Horovitz
Cinematographer: Lajos Koltai
Editor: Michel Arcand, Dominique Fortin
Sound: Jane Tattersall, Fred Brennan
Music: Maurice Jarre
Cast: Molly Parker, Ralph Fiennes, John Neville, Rosemary Harris, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Ehle, Deborah Unger, James Frain, William Hurt, Miriam Margolyes
Production Company: Kinowelt (Germany), ISL Film (Hungary), Dor Film (Hungary), Alliance Atlantis Pictures International

Academy Award®-winning director István Szabó’s epic film of sweeping ambition, Sunshine chronicles three generations of a Hungarian-Jewish family – the Sonnenscheins – through some of the most tumultuous decades of the twentieth century. The focal point of each generational chapter is a male Sonnenschein whose drive to reach the apex of Hungarian society blinds him to the tragic reality that he will always remain an outsider. In a tremendous performance, Ralph Fiennes plays all three – father, son and grandson – with careful attention to detail.

Ignatz (Fiennes) grows up in a Hungary ruled by the Austro-Hungarian empire. A powerful judge favoured by the authorities, he must balance his professional responsibilities with an overwhelming love for his first cousin Valerie (Jennifer Ehle), a woman he is determined to marry. Ignatz’s son Adam moves the story forward into the Nazi years. A world-class fencer who represents his country at the 1936 Olympics, Adam finds that recognition as a sportsman carries little weight when anti-Semitic policies are introduced by the conquering Nazis. And, finally, Adam’s son Ivan is born into a generation forced to deal with the paranoid, post-war Communist legacy.

An engrossing, thematically rich and heroic film of redemptive power, Sunshine is distinguished by the intimacy of the stories told and the sheer vitality of the personalities explored. Szabó evokes some of the worst traumas of the twentieth century, portraying victimized European Jews as courageous, but flawed, and far from saintly. The talented international cast transports the audience through these crucial events without losing sight of the personal details that affect the legacy of this resilient family.

Winner of several awards on the international festival circuit, Sunshine was nominated for fourteen Genie Awards and won three for Motion Picture (Robert Lantos, Andras Hamori), Overall Sound and Sound Editing. It also won three European Film Awards, with honours going to Fiennes, cinematographer Lajos Koltai and screenwriters Szabó and Israel Horovitz.

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