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Márta Mészáros


Márta Mészáros

Márta Mészáros
Born (1931-09-19) 19 September 1931
Budapest, Hungary
Occupation Film director
Years active 1954–present

Márta Mészáros (born September 19, 1931) is a Hungarian screenwriter and film director. Daughter of László Mészáros, a sculptor, Mészáros began her career working in documentary film and made 25 documentary shorts over the span of ten years, before making her first feature film Eltavozott nap (The Girl), which was released in 1968.[1] The first feature film directed by a woman in the history of Hungarian cinema[2] and the winner of the Special Prize of the Jury of the International Film Festival in Valladolid.[3]

Her films often combine autobiographical details with documentary footage and deal with the denial of a biographical past, lying and its consequences, and the problematics of gender. Mészáros heroines are often from fragmented families: young girls seeking their missing parents (The Girl) or middle aged single women hoping to adopt a child (Adoption).[4]

Although Mészáros has made over fifteen feature films she is probably best known for her film Diary for My Children (1984), which won the Grand-Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival and is the first film in a trilogy of autobiographical films that also includes Diary for my Lovers (1987), and Diary for my Father and Mother (1990).

Mészáros is also the winner of the Golden Bear and Silver Bear awards at the Berlinale, Golden medal at the Chicago International Film Festival, Silver Shell at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1991 she was a member of the jury at the 17th Moscow International Film Festival.[5]

Early life and education

Born in Budapest, Mészáros spent the first two years of her life in the Soviet Union, where her parents had emigrated as communist artists in 1936. There Mészáros's father, László Mészáros, was arrested and killed in 1938 under the Stalinist regime, and her mother died. Orphaned, Mészáros was raised by her foster mother in the USSR where she attended school. After returning to Hungary in 1946, Mészáros went back to Moscow to study at VGIK, returning again to Hungary only after her graduation in 1956.


Mészáros began working at the Budapest Newsreel Studio in 1954 where she made four short films, and then for the Alexandru Sahia documentary studio in Bucharest, Romania, from 1957–59. She then returned to Budapest in 1958 to make science popularization shorts, and documentary shorts, where she worked until 1968. Mészáros joined the Mafilm Group 4 in the mid-1960s, and directed her first feature in 1968.[6] Since that time Mészáros has made over fifty films, won numerous awards, and has been a judge on various film panels; she also continues to make films to this day.


Mészáros films are in many ways reflective of her experiences growing up and deal with issues that are relevant to her life. Having lost both of her parents early in life, and having spent much of her youth living in a post-Stalinist Hungary Mészáros life was rife with tragedy and oppression, and her films are often reflective of this. Additionally, because Mészáros spent many of her first years as a filmmaker working in documentary films, many of her feature films also contain lots of documentary footage. In most Mészáros features the films are open-ended, lack a conventional plot, and dialogue is sparse.

In terms of content, Mészáros films explore the wide and often tragic gaps between ideals and realities, and between parents and their children. Mészáros's films deal with realities usually ignored in Eastern European cinema: the subordination of women, conflicts of urban and rural cultures, antagonism between the bureaucracy and its employees, alcoholism, the generation gap, dissolution of traditional family structures, and the plight of state-reared children.

Mészáros is one of few female filmmakers who consistently makes films both critically and commercially successful for an international audience. Her eight feature films made from 1968 to 1979 are concerned with the social oppression, economic constraints, and emotional challenges faced by Hungarian women. In her own words Mészáros explains: "I tell banal, commonplace stories, and then in them the leads are women—I portray things from a woman's angle."

Personal life

Mészáros was first married to László Karda (a filmmaker), in 1957, but they divorced in 1959, and in 1960 she married Miklós Jancsó, a Hungarian film director and screenwriter whom she met during her time with the Mafilm Group 4.[7] Although they later divorced in 1973, their two sons, Nyika Jancsó and Miklós Jancsó Jr., have each separately worked as director of photography on many of her films.[8] She later married the Polish actor Jan Nowicki, but they divorced in 2008. Nowicki starred in many of her films, including the principal role in The Unburied Dead. His son from an earlier relationship, Łukasz Nowicki, starred in Mészáros' film, Kisvilma. Mészáros also has a daughter, Kasia Jancsó, from her second marriage.


Director (63 titles)[9]

  • 2012 - Magyarország 2011 (segment)
  • 2011 - Ármány és szerelem Anno 1951 (TV movie)
  • 2009 - The Last Report on Anna
  • 2004 - A temetetlen halott
  • 2001 - The Miraculous Manderin (short)
  • 2000 - Little Vilna: The Last Diary
  • 1999 - A Szerencse lányai
  • 1998 - Három dátum (documentary)
  • 1996 - The Seventh Room
  • 1994 - A magzat (Foetus)
  • 1992 - Edith és Marlene (TV movie)
  • 1990 - Napló apámnak, anyámnak (Diary for My Mother and Father)
  • 1989 - Bye bye chaperon rouge
  • 1987 - Diary for My Lovers
  • 1986 - Ave Maria (documentary short)
  • 1984 - Diary for My Children
  • 1984 - Délibábok országa
  • 1981 - Anna
  • 1980 - Örökség (The Heiresses)
  • 1979 - On the Move
  • 1978 - Olyan mint otthon (Just like Home)
  • 1977 - Women
  • 1976 - Kilenc hónap
  • 1975 - Adoption
  • 1973 - Szabad lélegzet
  • 1973 - Szeptember végén (TV movie)
  • 1971 - A lörinci fonóban
  • 1970 - Szép lányok, ne sírjatok!
  • 1969 - Holdudvar
  • 1968 - The Girl
  • 1968 - Mészáros László emlékére
  • 1966 - Borsos Miklós (documentary)
  • 1966 - Harangok városa - Veszprém
  • 1965 - 15 perc - 15 évröl
  • 1964 - Bóbita
  • 1964 - Festök városa - Szentendre
  • 1964 - Kiáltó
  • 1963 - 1963. július 27, szombat
  • 1963 - Munka vagy hiratás
  • 1963 - Szeretet
  • 1962 - A labda varázsa
  • 1962 - Gyerekek - könyvek
  • 1962 - Kamaszváros
  • 1962 - Nagyüzemi tojástermelés
  • 1962 - Tornyai János
  • 1961 - Vásárhelyi színek
  • 1961 - Danulongyártás
  • 1961 - Szívdobogás
  • 1961 - A szár és gyökér fejlödése
  • 1960 - Szerkezettervezés
  • 1960 - Az öszibarack termesztése
  • 1960 - Egy TSZ elnökröl
  • 1960 - Rajtunk is múlik
  • 1960 - Az eladás müvészete
  • 1959 - Az élet megy tovább
  • 1959 - Tomorrow's Shift (documentary short)
  • 1958 - Popas în tabara de vara (documentary short)
  • 1957 - Sa zîmbeasca toti copii (documentary short)
  • 1956 - Országutak vándora
  • 1955 - Albertfalvai történetek
  • 1955 - Mindennapi történet
  • 1955 - Túl a Cálvin téren
  • 1954 - ...és újtra mosolyognak


Berlin International Film Festival:

  • 2007 - Won - Berlinale Camera
  • 1994 - Nominated - Golden Berlin Bear for A magzat
  • 1987 - Won - OCIC Award for Diary for my Lovers
  • 1987 - Won - Silver Berlin Bear for Diary for my Lovers
  • 1987 - Nominated - Golden Berlin Bear for Diary for my Lovers
  • 1977 - Won - OCIC Award Recommendation for Kilenc hónap
  • 1975 - Won - C.I.D.A.L.C. Award Recommendation for Adoption
  • 1975 - Won - Golden Berlin Bear for Adoption
  • 1975 - Won - Interfilm Award/Otto Dibelius Film Award for Adoption
  • 1975 - Won - OCIC Award Recommendation for Adoption

Cannes Film Festival:

  • 1984 - Won - Grand Prize of the Jury for Diary for my Children
  • 1984 - Nominated - Palme d'Or for Diary for my Children
  • 1980 - Nominated - Palme d'Or for Örökség
  • 1977 - Won - FIPRESCI Prize for Kilenc hónap

Chicago International Film Festival:

  • 2010 - Won - Gold Plaque - The Last Report on Anna

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival:

  • 2005 - Nominated - Crystal Globe for A temetetlen halott

Moscow International Film Festival:

  • 2010 - Nominated - Golden St. George for The Last Report on Anna

San Sebastian International Film Festival:

  • 1978 - Won - Silver Seashell for Olyan mint otthon

Venice Film Festival:

  • 1995 - Won - Elvira Notari Prize/Special Mention for The Seventh Room
  • 1995 - Won - OCIC Award for The Seventh Room


  1. ^ Martineau, Barbara Halpern. "The Films of Márta Mészáros or the Importance of Being Banal". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  2. ^ Quart, Barbara Koenig. "Screen Memories The Hungarian Cinema of Márta Mészáros". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  3. ^ Hordiichuk, Iryna. "Márta Mészáros: Happiness is Being Strong Enough to Fight for Yourself, and to be Cruel at Times". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  4. ^ Moss, Kevin. "Screen Memories: The Hungarian Cinema of Márta Mészáros. by Catherine Portuges". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  5. ^ "17th Moscow International Film Festival (1991)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  6. ^ Gianoulis, Tina. "Mészáros, Márta". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  7. ^ "Marta Meszaros Biography (1931-)". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  8. ^ Maslin, Janet. "NY Just Like Home". Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  9. ^ "Márta Mészáros". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 

Further reading

  • Quart, Barbara.Three Central European Women Directors Revisited. Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 58. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 April 2012.
  • Parvulescu, Constantin. Betrayed Promises: Politics And Sexual Revolution In The Films Of Márta Mészáros, Miloš Forman And Dušan Makavejev. Camera Obscura 24.71 (2009): 77-105. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 April 2012.
  • Dixon, Wheeler Winston. A Personal/Political Artist: Marta Meszaros. Literature Film Quarterly 23.4 (1995): 293. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 April 2012.

External links

  • Márta Mészáros at the Internet Movie Database
  • Mészáros, Márta, Film's Biography of Márta Mészáros
  • Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times, 2002 interview from Senses of Cinema
  • Central Europe Review, interview about Kisvilma – Az utolsó napló (Little Vilma: The Last Diary)
  • I'm for Liberal, Social Democracy: Marta Meszaros, 2009 interview from the Economic Times
  • Film: Márta Mészáros's, Diary for my Children, NY Times movie review of Diary for my Children
  • Márta Mészáros: Happiness is Being Strong Enough to Fight for Yourself and be Cruel at Times, Translated from a 2010 interview with The Day, a Kiev newspaper
  • Márta Mészáros: Lies do not Like, Translated from an interview with Viva!
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