The first trailer has dropped for White God, Hungary’s official Oscar submission for the foreign language category. Directed and co-written by Kornél Mundruczó, the film, a thriller set from the point of view of a mixed breed canine named Hagen, was one of the big attention-getters of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It was at that tony event where White God won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar and nearly unanimous positive reviews. Many critics even questioned as to why the Cannes programmers hadn’t selected the film for the festival’s main competition. Magnolia Pictures picked up U.S. distribution for the title following the festival and will release it platform-style on March 27, 2015.
The plot of White God sets in motion when a 13-year-old girl named Lili (played by Zsófia Psotta) is dispatched to live with her father for the summer. Accompanying Lili is her faithful mutt, Hagen. After complaints arise about Hagen’s arrival and a financial penalty comes about, Lili’s father ditches Hagen into the streets of Budapest. This leads to the dog fending for itself on the streets and an eventual canine uprising. Critics immediately started comparing White God (and rather favorably at that) to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller The Birds – the film comes with a lauded kennel escape sequence that featured 200 dogs.
The film is likely a long shot moving forward in the awards race, but could find some success commercially if word of mouth can be persuasively marketed alongside the strong reviews. White God will next play at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival ahead of arriving in theaters. One more plaudit for the film: its stars (Hagen is played by brothers Luke and Body) won the coveted Palm Dog, an annual award bestowed by the international film critics at the Cannes Film Festival. (Yes, that’s a real thing).