The dust has just settled on the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and while the film community continues to argue on whether it was a good year for the prestigious film festival or not, one of the critical favorites has just received U.S. distribution. Magnolia Pictures nabbed the distribution rights to White God, a dramatic thriller from Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó. The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard sidebar of the festival and won the top prize, receiving a spirited, if slightly polarizing response from critics, many of whom seemed to ask why the film wasn’t selected for the main competition of the festival.
White God, which early reviews echo has the finger prints of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller The Birds, centers on a 13-year-old girl’s separation from her dog. The events of the film lead to a canine uprising and include a much lauded sequences where 200 dogs escape from a kennel. The film is a Hungarian-Swedish-German co-production. Peter Bradshaw, in his rave review for The Guardian said, “It is a fantasia of canine madness that looks sometimes like a horror-thriller based on something by James Herbert or Stephen King – and sometimes like a tribute to Hitchcock’s The Birds. Except that this time it’s The Dogs.” This is Mundruczó’s sixth feature film (he previously directed Delta and Johanna) and appears to be on its way to his most successful to date.
The film also won another coveted prize at Cannes – the Palm Dog Award, an annual prize anointed by the international film critics for the best canine performance of the festival (yes, it is a real thing.) Brothers Luke and Body, the main canine protaganists of White God were awarded the prize. Past winners of the prize include Uggie from The Artist and Dug from Pixar’s Up. There isn’t word yet on possible release dates, but with promising reviews and comparisons to Hitchcock, White God may find itself with an outside chance of breaking through as an art house hit with the right marketing muscle behind it – perhaps it may even be awarded as Hungary’s official selection for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award.