Márta Mészáros

The native form of this personal name is Mészáros Márta. This article uses the Western name order.
Márta Mészáros
Born (1931-09-19) 19 September 1931
Budapest, Hungary
Occupation Film director
Years active 1954–present

Márta Mészáros (born 19 September 1931) is a Hungarian screenwriter and film director. The daughter of László Mészáros, a sculptor, Mészáros began her career working in documentary film, having made 25 documentary shorts over the span of ten years.[1] Her full-length directorial debut, Eltavozott nap/The Girl (1968), was the first Hungarian film to have been directed by a woman,[2] and won the Special Prize of the Jury at the Valladolid International Film Festival.[3]

Mészáros' work often combines autobiographical details with documentary footage. Prominent themes include characters' denials of their pasts, the consequences of dishonesty, and the problematics of gender. Her films often feature heroines from fragmented families, such as young girls seeking their missing parents (The Girl) or middle-aged women looking to adopt children (Adoption).[4]

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

Throughout her career, Mészáros has won the Golden Bear and the Silver Bear awards at the Berlinale; the Golden Medal at the Chicago International Film Festival; the 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]

Feature films

Short films


Berlin International Film Festival:

Cannes Film Festival:

Chicago International Film Festival:

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival:

Moscow International Film Festival:

San Sebastian International Film Festival:

Venice Film Festival:


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

Further reading

External links

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